Several articles in Wednesday Journal have reported directly or indirectly on the possibilities for strengthening and enriching interactions between older adults and children in our village. The Oct. 9 article, “New daycare’s core curriculum is empathy,” provides firsthand accounts of the empathy-creating potential of pairing elderly Oak Park Arms resident volunteers with preschool children.  

This newly opened (Aug. 29) Kindness Creators Intergenerational Daycare was purposely located in the Oak Park Arms. A major goal of its two owners/directors was to effectively nurture cross-generational relationships. It is proving to be a win-win for both groups. 

Another intergenerational possibility was highlighted in the Feb. 12 Wednesday Journal article, “Senior-centric equipment coming to Randolph Park.” The equipment planned for this park is much more than senior-centric. The Randolph Park Master Plan includes “exercise equipment for people of all levels of physical ability, including senior citizens.” Located one block from the Oak Park Arms, this equipment will encourage the residents to share this public space with children and families. Even more innovative will be the introduction of intergenerational play equipment in the same park setting. This play equipment is specifically designed to accommodate adults and children together on three distinct pieces of play equipment for our local parks. This equipment will complement the goals of the intergenerational daycare at the Oak Park Arms.

In a third related article, “Physical therapist calls for more accessible playgrounds” (Oct. 2) pediatric physical therapist, Haviva Siegel’s thoughtfully argues for the need to make some of Oak Park’s playgrounds accessible to kids with disabilities. A missing connective “dot” is that if play equipment can be designed for children who use “wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices” it is certainly possible to include specialized adult exercise equipment in our parks for some of our older residents with mobility challenges. 

Intergenerational interactions are fostered in a shared local park space with equipment adapted for both age groups. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to develop these types of equipment in the planned renovation of Rehm Park? Haviva Siegel said, “I think there’s brilliance in this community and we need to take advantage of this capacity.”

We at Arbor West Neighbors (AWN), a grassroots, local nonprofit organization, concur with Haviva Siegel’s observation. Our members are engaged in connecting, supporting and advocating for initiatives that empower adults to thrive as we age in our communities. We promote age-integrated settings and are excited by the possibilities of these three creative interconnected initiatives.

Susan Stall

Arbor West Neighbors

Join the discussion on social media!