The Benefits of Intergenerational Mentoring
A third of today’s youth lack mentors, according to a recent report from mentoring.org. In the meantime, there are countless older adults who are isolated, lonely and in need of companionship. It only makes sense to bring the two together and give opportunities for happier, healthier kids, seniors and communities.
Matching a child who needs some extra attention with a senior citizen can create an opportunity to forge a strong relationship with an older adult. Breaking down the barriers between generations with mentoring provides activities and learning opportunities for children and youth.
Children with senior mentors also benefit from increased motivation to learn. They also have better leadership and communication skills, as well as higher self-esteem. By spending time with an older person, children also develop a greater understanding of what aging is all about, as well as an increased respect for the elderly.
Anyone can be a mentor, but seniors are particularly suited to make unique contributions. They have plenty of wisdom and experience to share, but their are often undervalued and underutilized. Seniors are living longer, healthier than ever before and growing in number, making them the perfect candidates for filling mentorship roles within their own communities. Better yet, it works! The attention, guidance and support of seniors has ben proven to help at-risk kids become more aware, self-confident and capable people.
But the children aren’t the only beneficiaries. Older adults can derive fulfillment as well as a sense of value and purpose, often lacking in their lives. These relationships can also home with depression and loneliness and improve the overall quality of life for seniors.
The national Senior Corps’ Foster Grandparent Program unites older Americans with at-risk kids in their local communities to act as mentors, tutors and caregivers. Currently, more than 30,000 foster grandparents serve as mentors for almost 300,000 kids.
Today’s children face many challenges and too often try to navigate the obstacles by themselves. Today’s seniors have those experiences under their belts and have advice to support to give. Mentoring offers the perfect opportunity for the young and older adult to connect and benefit in unique ways. It’s a win-win for everyone.