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Participants of wellness activities at the Pittsburg YMCA throw a frisbee for one of the games. Image Courtesy of PSU Marketing

Students partner with senior citizens to create intergenerational interventions 

Alyssa Tyler editor in chief 

For the past seven weeks, students of associate professors Laura Covert-Millers class, therapeutic interventions for older adults, have been going to the YMCA for programs. These programs can range from group line-dancing to hosting a holiday party.  

‘This is a required project for my therapeutic interventions for older adult class. You’re responsible for creating different types of therapeutic-based interventions that could be intergenerational. So, teamwork, working together, creating interventions that both the students and the older adults who are coming to the class could work on together to reach a common goal,” said Miller. “It is in the hopes that the students are not only learning about how to lead and how to make adaptations, but really the goal is for students to learn more about aging and to see that there is just not one way, it’s an opportunity for growth and development.” 

There are a variety of reasons why Covert-Miller sees this project as important for her students.  

“Specifically with older adults, it’s important for students to get to know older adults because there’s so many wonderful experiences that they’ve had and then the knowledge they provide for students. And to help students to see that you know what may seem like a big deal today. In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t. And it helps students to take a step back and to appreciate our society, getting old is. It’s something that a lot of people are afraid to do and don’t want to accept. And so, it’s important for students to be able to appreciate more adults getting older and you have a better understanding of how they can provide different types of services for older adults, which is greatly needed,” said Miller.  

“It’s really awesome to see. Students and the older adults come together and have fun giving each other high fives and encouraging each other. It’s been amazing, but it’s really been great too to notice how student’s perspectives of our adults and aging has changed throughout these entire seven weeks. We’ve been doing this because some kids came in and never really worked with older adults. They had not been around older adults except maybe their grandparents or just older family members. So, stepping outside their comfort zone and getting to know people that they would normally not go out of their way to get to know. It’s really great to see all of that come together.” 

For some students, such as sophomore in therapeutic recreation Julia Robertson, she had never thought about working with older adults.  

“I’ve learned so much about what to expect when I get older, and how I’d like to be treated. We’re all trying to reach a goal together,” said Robertson, during an interview released by PSU news. “It’s my favorite thing and I look forward to it every week.” 

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