The fourth annual OMEGA Summit, held on October 20 at the MIT AgeLab in Cambridge, brought together nearly 40 high schoolers from across New England who were interested in leading efforts to improve intergenerational connections. Students worked with AgeLab researchers and Lifestyle Leaders, policymakers, and practitioners to develop ideas for intergenerational programming which could be implemented at their schools. Students heard an overview of the mutual benefits of intergenerational relationships, saw examples of successful intergenerational programs, then organized into small groups to brainstorm ideas with the assistance of experts, before finally presenting to the larger group.
Some of the ideas students generated during the Summit included:
- A “film friends” interngenerational meetup for older adults to share their favorite movies with high school students, and for students to share their favorite films with older adults.
- A weekly game night in which high school students introduce older adults to video games of various genres.
- A program called N.I.C.E (New Intergenerational Connections for Everyone) that organizes a variety of events bringing together participants of all ages: Thanksgiving dinners, bowling and pool nights, trivia and game nights, and community service activities.
Expert guidance was provided to students by Amanda Bernardo of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Amaka Mogor, Nurse Consultant for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Cynthia Wilkerson of Little Brothers- Friends of the Elderly, as well as AgeLab Lifestyle Leaders John Blair, Klaus Lowenstein, and Rita Richmond.
Students left the Summit with new ideas, new connections, and “next steps” on how they can move forward in implementing and strengthening intergenerational programs in their schools and communities.
Students also learned more about the OMEGA scholarship. Up to three OMEGA college scholarships, with a matching grant for intergenerational work to the student’s program, are awarded each year to high school students who are leading intergenerational programs in their school or community. Applications for the OMEGA scholarship will open in January 2019.