Thursday, June 12, 2008

Intergenerational School brings Older Volunteers into Schools

NPR ran a great story this morning about a school in Cleveland that brings young and old together through volunteerism. The Intergenerational School buses in folks in their 80s and 90s to read to children and talk about their life experiences. Some of the volunteers have Alzheimer's or dementia, but this hasn't proved to be an impediment to their work. In fact Dr. Peter Whitehouse, the founder of the school, believes that volunteering has numerous health benefits to Alzheimer's patients. Whitehouse has been working with Daniel George to study the effects of volunteerism:

Whitehouse and George say they see a change in volunteers such as 91-year-old Hardesty. She doesn't use the words Alzheimer's or dementia. Instead, she talks about her "problem." She says that when it developed late last year, it hit her hard.
"I thought I might as well quit," Hardesty says. "I was really down in the dumps about the whole thing. There was a time that I hated to go down to dinner because I just couldn't talk to people. It was awful." For a while she stopped going to the dining hall. Two things lifted her from that despair: a support group for people dealing with memory loss and her volunteer work at the Cleveland school.
"The kids, you know, we always find a lot of things to laugh about," says Hardesty. "Just having kids around has always been very good for me, so it was good thing."

If you have a few moments the story is worth a listen!

No comments: