ROANOKE, Va. (February 7, 2020) – Friendship, a local leader in senior living and rehabilitation, is entering its second year in partnering with the Taubman Museum of Art and Wasena Elementary School as part of an intergenerational program. The purpose of the collaboration is to encourage learning and friendship across generations through the medium of artwork. In 2020, the partnership has grown to include Friendship’s assisted living as well as Preston Park Elementary School.
Both elementary school’s first grade students have been visiting the Taubman every month, and Taubman has visited Friendship South and Friendship Assisted Living every month as well. During these sessions, the students and residents have created a “pen-pal” relationship in creating works for each other while participating in art history lessons. Both the senior living campuses and the schools are displaying each other’s artwork in their buildings.
On Friday, December 6 at 10 a.m., Preston Park and Friendship Assisted Living came together for the first time at Friendship’s North campus, located on Hershberger Road in Roanoke. Three Friendship residents are alumni of Preston Park and enjoyed reconnecting with students from their alma mater. Then on Friday, January 31, Wasena Elementary and Friendship South residents collaborated over the same Julie Speed-focused art activity at the South campus, located on Starkey Road.
The lesson was followed by crafts that encouraged the participants to interact with their partners and create bird art work to be displayed on a two-piece tree mural. At the end of the day, the students and the residents each kept half of the mural to feature it in their respective buildings.
The intergenerational program was an idea proposed by Ben Higgins, vice president of healthcare operations.
“I realized that often times the younger generation is not comfortable interacting with the older generation, so my hope was to create a pen-pal program, using art as the medium. I wanted them to realize that they share the same interests, regardless of age,” said Higgins. “I grew up interacting with older people at my church and my son has grown up being comfortable around seniors as well. There is significant value in intergenerational collaboration.”
The program was an instant success and has received statewide recognition from the Virginia Health Care Association (VHCA). This partnership earned first place for the D.A. “Woody” Brown Community Involvement Special Event Program (for 100+ beds).
“Our award from the VHCA was humbling to receive. Many organizations were vying for the accolade, but our program was unique in that it is specific to building intergenerational bonds,” said Brandon Evans, administrator of Friendship South. “Lauren Hale, our activities director, has been great in coordinating with the school and the Taubman Museum. The residents absolutely love this program, and they light up when the kids are here.”
For Hale, the award was an honor, but the program itself has been the highlight of her year.
“The residents look forward to seeing the staff members of Taubman and their visits with the students, as well. We have become family,” said Hale. “Katrina King, administrator at the Taubman Museum, and her team do a great job coming up with content for the programs, and we are always looking forward to our next time together.”