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America is changing. More of our citizens are moving into the "senior" portions of their lives. Within twenty years, a significant segment of our population will be retired or nearing retirement. With this retirement comes a tendency to live in retirement communities, separated from mainstream society. At the same time, our youth are experiencing greater isolation from adult life and from interaction with older individuals. Because of our mobile population, many children grow up today without regular contact with a grandparent or an older adult.

This scenario suggests that there is perhaps no greater need in our society than to connect young people with older Americans. Both have needs that can be served by the other, and together, they can serve the needs of the nation. Yet, developing effective intergenerational programs involves more than simply connecting the two groups.

The literature that follows provides important information about the issues and practices to be addressed as we implement high quality intergenerational programs. There is much that has been learned about the nature of good programs and how effective pairings begin and grow. Using this knowledge will enable us to develop one of the most important service-learning initiatives for the future.


Vue-Benson, R., Shumer, R., Hengel, M.S. & Hollander, C. (1997). Intergenerational Service Topic Bibliography. St. Paul, MN: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.

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