If you’ve ever watched a young child or teen spending time with a senior, you’ve likely noticed how much both seem to enjoy the interaction. Younger children can be especially drawn to older adults. Many aging experts believe friendships that span several generations offer many mental and physical health benefits. They can aid in preventing depression and other health conditions among older adults, most notably those with mobility challenges that limit how active they can be.
Younger generations benefit from these friendships, too. When younger people have a chance to get to know their elders, they develop healthy expectations about aging. Instead of fearing it, children and teens see growing older as the positive time in life it can be. By offering intergenerational activities at your community center, you can help build such friendships.
Here are a few ideas that might help you incorporate intergenerational activities into your community center schedule.
4 Inexpensive Intergenerational Community Events
1. Organize a movie night
Technology has made it much easier to host your own movie night. It can be a fun way to relax and enjoy a few laughs together, whether you stream a favorite family movie indoors at your community center or set up a “movie theater” outside using a projector and white screen. If you aren’t able to borrow or rent the equipment, it can be purchased fairly inexpensively online. This review of the best projectors will help you make a quality purchase.
Don’t forget the bottled water, soft drinks, bags of popcorn, and snack station. Candy, nachos, chips, and pretzels are a few easy treats to offer on movie night.
2. Host a scavenger hunt
Weather permitting, another fun intergenerational activity is a scavenger hunt. They are low in cost and high in fun!
Think about the style of scavenger hunt you would like to host. Do you want to give participants a list of items to find? Or perhaps have them find clues pointing them to different attractions in the neighborhood where they can take photos? When you are making plans, consider how easy it is for the elders in the group to get around.
If you would like to go a little more high-tech with your scavenger hunt, an app like GooseChase can be a solution. Whatever avenue you choose, don’t forget to line up prizes for the winning teams!
3. Organize a craft fair
Unlike traditional craft fairs where vendors sell their products, this type of intergenerational event could give visitors the opportunity to make their own arts and crafts. Have volunteers staff stations with different activities at each. You could offer birdhouse construction, fiber arts, stepping-stones, ornament painting, and more.
It might be possible to solicit in-kind donations from area stores or charge a small admission fee to help cover expenses.
4. Plant a community garden
Gardening is an enjoyable and healthy hobby at every age. If your community center is looking for a good intergenerational activity, planting a garden together might be one to consider. It is inexpensive and easily lends itself to group activity.
If your community center doesn’t have yard space to dedicate solely to a garden, there are other options. You could try installing raised beds or creating a container garden full of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Elevated gardens and containers are easier for older gardeners. Whatever you choose, it can be an opportunity for multiple generations to grow and nurture something together.
Those new to gardening might find it helpful to read Raised Bed and Container Garden Tips.
We hope this list of intergenerational events gives your community center some helpful ideas!