Our intergenerational programs have served the community for 30 years.
The JCA Heyman Interages® Center intergenerational programs have brought children and older adults together for 30 years. Since 1986, approximately 45,000 children and older adults in more than 100 schools and senior facilities have benefited from participation in our programs. Over the years hundreds of dedicated and caring older adult volunteers, who are the heart of Interages, have made a significant difference in the lives of children.
What are the benefits of generations working together?
Children exposed to positive adult role models learn from the knowledge and experience their elders have to offer. Stereotypes and fears about youth and aging are dispelled when both generations communicate and work together. Sharing personal histories and life experience improves understanding across generations. Children learn and experience compassion and the value of community service.
Direct involvement with children helps older adults stay active and connected to their community, and provides opportunities for them to live more productive, happier lives. Older adult volunteers develop friendships with children and other volunteers that may reduce a sense of loss or isolation. Involvement in meaningful work increases each participant’s sense of personal fulfillment and self-worth.
Download our 2018 program report to learn more about what we do.
Heyman Interages Center volunteers are living proof that concerned citizens can change the world. Each year, our dedicated volunteers share their skills and friendship with students across Montgomery County to help them succeed in school and life.
Mentoring and Tutoring
If you’re age 50+, we invite you to volunteer with JCA Heyman Interages® Center’s high impact programs. Volunteers engage in meaningful service throughout Montgomery County in a variety of programs that help youth unlock their full potential. Our programs take place in schools and in the community, helping youth ages 3-18 with academics, self-confidence and an appreciation of cross-age connections. As a JCA Interages volunteer, you can make a difference in as little as one hour a week, or you can increase your impact by giving more time. We provide training and ongoing support and will work with you to find the right opportunity to fit your interests, skills and schedule.
Reading and Educating to Advance Lives (REAL) connects volunteers with children and their parents through literacy and health activities in Department of Health and Human Services waiting rooms. Volunteers read, talk about shapes/letters/numbers/colors, talk about healthy foods, draw and color, do activity sheets, etc. with children who are present. Volunteers also offer free books for children to take home with them. Sites in Germantown, Rockville, and Silver Spring.
SHARE (Students Help and Reach Elders) enriches the lives of adult residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities by linking them with school groups (from pre-school through high school) for friendship and interactive fun activities. Makeover Madness brings adults from senior facilities to the Thomas Edison High School of Technology and Gaithersburg High School for cosmetic services and friendly conversation with students.
Intergenerational Resource Center (IRC) provides technical assistance to individuals and organizations interested in developing intergenerational programming in the community. IRC meetings are held throughout the year and an e-newsletter featuring ideas and trends in intergenerational programming is distributed on a regular basis.
Interages serves the community by championing mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities for older adults and youth to interact and learn from one another while fostering respect between generations and appreciation of diversity. In addition, Interages:
- Models effective intergenerational programs
- Disseminates information and provides training and technical assistance
- Facilitates communication among entities with an intergenerational interests
Over the years, Interages has received numerous awards for our intergenerational work, including the following:
- Program of Distinction by Generations United
- Best Small Charities of Greater Washington by the Catalogue for Philanthropy
- Award of Excellence in Older Volunteer Program Management by the MetLife Foundation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)
- Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education by the Montgomery County Board of Education
- Mentoring Program of the Year by the Maryland Governor
Why Intergenerational Programs Matter
The population is changing. By 2030, there will be more people over age 65 than under age 14. This will affect every aspect of our lives — from education and health care to jobs and families. To address these challenges effectively, we must educate all citizens about aging — starting with our youngest — and starting now.
However, modern society has become age-segregated — increasingly children spend time with other children, adults work outside the home with people primarily their own age, and seniors spend time in seniors-only communities, residences and social centers. This lack of intergenerational contact allows each generation to perceive itself as separate and isolated rather than an integral part of the larger community. Often, this segregation creates misunderstanding, unfair stereotypes, and a reduced quality of communal life for all.
Our programs benefit the community by:
- Recognizing and utilizing the talents of citizens of all ages
- Erasing stereotypes which keep age groups separate
- Encouraging each generation to learn and benefit from each other, enriching all in the process
Austin Heyman had the insight to see the importance of bringing the generations together and in 1986 he founded Interages and served as the Executive Director until 1997. In 1986, in order to improve county efforts to establish intergenerational programs, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and the Board of Education joined in a partnership to help fund the Montgomery County Intergenerational Resource Center. Interages successfully competed for the contract to operate the center.
In 1987, Interages developed the award-winning intergenerational childcare project, Grandcare. The project recruited, oriented, and placed older adults in licensed childcare centers in Montgomery County. The project was presented at a number of national conferences and received major corporate support from IBM, AT&T and Bell Atlantic, as well as support from the State of Maryland. The project was implemented for nine years and placed more than 150 adults in over 35 child-care centers.
In 1989, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services encouraged Interages to focus its work especially with needy and disadvantaged populations. In 1990, Interages created the Intergenerational Bridges mentoring project focusing on impoverished, at-risk, immigrant youngsters. The project was presented at several conferences and was named the “Mentoring Program of the Year” by the Governor of Maryland in 1997. The Points of Light Foundation recognized Bridges as a “Daily Point of Light” in 2000.
Over the years, Interages created several intergenerational programs including: the Family, the Courts, and the Constitution; Shared Rights; Dialogues Across the Ages; Televisit, Self-Esteem Through Service; Newcomers; Grandcrafters; Project SHARE; and Global Wizards. Interages also received a grant for four years to run the Across Ages Model Intergenerational Program developed by Temple University.
Over the last 30 years, Interages programs have involved more than 35,000 children and older adults in more than 100 schools and senior facilities. Interages has worked very hard to develop and implement relevant intergenerational programs that meet community needs. As the years have progressed some programs have run their natural course and concluded and some continue to this day. The Intergenerational Bridges, Project SHARE and Dialogues Across the Ages programs are still active today. Programs implemented over the last decade that are part of the solid base of Interages intergenerational programs include: Grandreaders, Read-Aloud, Intergenerational Bridges, SHARE, Makeover Madness, WoW, Mature Mentors and Math Club. In 2011, Interages celebrated 25 years of service to Montgomery County residents as the leader in intergenerational programming.
WUSA Channel 9 featured Intergenerational Bridges on its Friday’s Heroes Program. Watch the video. Watch the short video below for an overview of Interages programs and how our volunteers make a difference.
Leah Bradley, Senior Director of Interages co-authored an article, Using Technology to Connect Generations: Some Considerations of Form and Function. This article was published in Comunicar, a peer-reviewed scientific, bilingual Spanish and English journal with Chinese abstracts. Now in its 22nd year, this media education research journal has published 1,638 research and studies articles. The article was selected via a rigorous and transparent blind reviewing system of manuscripts that utilizes an international, scientific editorial board of 372 reviewers from 28 countries.
The Southern Gerontological Society featured an article by Interages’ Assistant Director entitled “Engaging a Generation to Respond to the Needs of a Changing Community”, which highlights the positive impact Intergenerational Bridges mentors have on Montgomery County Public Schools students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program. Read the full article on page 5 of The Southern Gerontologist.
The MetLife Foundation and Generations United honored Montgomery County with the 2013 Best Intergenerational Communities Award. Read the full report to learn how Montgomery County has excelled at honoring diversity and engaging the generations.
Generations United recognized the JCA Heyman Interages Center with the prestigious “Program of Distinction” award. Read the full press release.