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IRC Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Monday, September 12, 2016
By: IRC Blog

It’s a good time to reach across generations

We hear a lot these days about conflicts between generations. But we all have much in common, and young and old alike can benefit from knowing people of different ages. 

That’s why some forward-looking folks designated September as Intergeneration Month, a worldwide celebration that encourages people to connect across generations. It’s a time to get together, learn from one another and share the wisdom of age and the enthusiasm of youth. 

From its beginnings almost 30 years ago, Intergeneration Month has grown into an internationally recognized event. The annual observation grew out of a nonprofit organization, the Fountain Institute, founded in 1987 by Sandy Kraemer, an attorney in Colorado Springs, Colo. Inspired by his observation that communications between people of different generations were becoming more difficult and that social, economic, educational and political issues were becoming age-driven, Kraemer decided to research intergenerational issues. The institute was founded to carry out that research, and the results showed that there was a need to set aside a time each year to focus on intentional connections leading to better communication of age-related gratitude and needs. 

In 2000, the institute changed its name to the Intergeneration Foundation and launched Intergeneration Day, set for the first Sunday in October. The governors of 43 states, including Virginia and Maryland, proclaimed Intergeneration Day. They were joined by numerous organizations including the American Library Association, Microsoft Corporation and the Stanford University Center on Longevity. The District of Columbia and many municipalities also proclaimed Intergeneration Day. Intergeneration Months have also been proclaimed around the world, from Africa to New Zealand. 

 After receiving worldwide support, the day set aside to intentionally connect generations was expanded to a month in 2012, and September was chosen as Intergeneration Month. 

The centerpiece of Intergeneration Month is Grandparents Day, which falls this year on Sept. 11. Grandparents Day dates back to 1961, when the first day specifically designated to honor grandparents was held at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York. A few years later, the idea had caught on, and it became an official holiday in the Bronx, New York. In 1978, Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. 

Grandparents Day aims specifically at connecting generations. It isn’t just about younger folks reaching out to older people. Older folks need to find opportunities to connect with younger people as well. It’s only by working together that we all can address the challenges facing us now and in the future. 

Generations United, an organization formed to improve the lives of children, youths and older adults through intergenerational collaboration, is urging everyone to “Do Something Grand” on Grandparents Day. There are lots of suggestions on its Web site for activities that you can do with your family and community. To find out more, visit www.gu.org.



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