Monona County participants in a new Iowa State University Extension program called Mid Life & Beyond identified needs or challenges for those who are aging in our communities. 60+ seniors need a helping hand from time to time; and it is important to strengthen interactions between generations. This need combined with a new West Monona School graduation requirement for high school seniors to provide service in the community. A team of adults and students worked together to create the new program they call Generation Connection. This has high school seniors helping senior citizens. Many of you may not know this...but Monona County actually has one of the highest populations of elderly in the state of Iowa. And Generation Connection is teaming up to making ageing a little easier. At West Monona High School in Onawa Iowa, there's a unique requirement to get your diploma. Students there have to earn 12 hours of community service. And a third of those are earned thorough a program called generation connection. That program tries to connect senior citizens with seniors in high school. Here's how it works.
The senior citizens request different odd jobs that need to be done at their homes. Then west Monona seniors sign up to take care of the tasks. Students who I spoke with seem to have a positive reaction to the program. As for the senior citizens? they just like the opportunity to talk with the kids.
"At first a lot of the seniors were kind of surprised but it is a great opportunity and as we are going out into the workforce we are going to need skills like this."
"Oh, I like to talk to them you know (pause). It's just fun."
And it's not all work for the students, there is time for fun and games.
"There are opportunities to play chess, to play checkers and its just to make sure that they aren't lonely or anything like that. If they need help doing anything else even just telling stories or sitting around talking, its just all about making life easier for them."
The program hopes to continue to expand and evolve over the next few years. The goal is to expand an attitude of caring in communities and carry the program over to other districts within the county as well as other grades.
Spring Cleaning: Seniors Helping Seniors - KMEG 14 & FOX 44
West Monona High School Connects Generations - KCAU 9