Community Education Corner: Intergenerational community

This weekly column in Pine Journal features news from Community Education programs in Carlton County.

Cloquet High School (Jamie Lund / Pine Journal)

Thanks to medical advancements, people are living longer on average. In their retirement years, 45% of those who are working say they want to work with youth.

Our Age-to-Age programs, sponsored by the Northland Foundation, help to make this happen.

Programs involve children and youth of all ages, and older adults of all ages.

Older adults are paired with a student. Adults come into the schools on a weekly basis to read with their student and friendships are formed. Children often show improved reading scores and gain a positive attitude toward older adults.

The adult volunteers see many benefits as well. Studies show they burn 20% more calories per week, experienced fewer falls and performed better on memory tests. A win-win for all involved.


In Tech and Coffee events, youth become the mentors, answering questions and giving instruction on phones, tablets and laptop devices to adults. Sharing their technological expertise is one way that the youth help raise the quality of life in the community.

Social events, such as bean bag tournaments or a bus trip to Bentleyville provide an interactive time for fun. When involved in multi-generational activities, youth gain social networks, communication skills and a sense of purpose and community service.

With families spreading apart as young adults seek employment, intentional intergenerational programs can help new networks to form across the ages.

If you are planning an event or activity, think about how to include youth or older adults who may not be connected. Everyone will be a winner!

"Community Education Corner," published weekly in the Pine Journal, features news from Community Education programs in Carlton County.

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