01 January 2008
In society today the generations are increasingly kept apart from each other. The needs of older and younger people are perceived as being irreconcilably different. Elderly people have their own clubs and day centres, and often live in communities where there are no young people. Indeed, many older people are nervous of meeting children and teenagers. Equally, young people spend most of their time in the company of their peers. Worries about abuse result in children rarely having the opportunity to mix socially with adults apart from their own families. Both the old and the young are at risk of social exclusion.
The Puente project conducted action research in the area of intergenerational learning (IGL), which was defined as older members of the community learning together with young people in a collaborative way. Puente sought to draw folks who wouldn’t otherwise meet do things they couldn’t otherwise dream of, so that they could learn from each other, respect each other and broaden their horizons. Puente showed that shared interest is far more important than shared age, and that it is not difficult to create communities of practice that span generations.