Making Intergenerational Connections - Issue #135
Moses Lake United Methodist Church in Moses Lake, Washington, has been given credit by its local public school for more students passing the state assessment test. The reason for this acknowledgement is a ministry called Youth/Senior Connection (YSC).
In YSC, older members of the congregation tutor at-risk elementary-school students after school four days a week during the school year. In this cooperative venture, the students are referred by the school with parental support. The church provides the facilities and the volunteers. The ministry was started in 2005; but when the school recently lost some funding for at-risk students, the church increased the number of older adults in the program. All of the participating volunteers must pass a state patrol background check before they can be tutors.
The church provides the students a snack when they arrive for their tutoring session. After 45 minutes of tutoring, the older volunteers provide the students with 30 minutes of a fun activity. Activities include cooking, crafts, photography, writing, and puppetry. They even added learning to play the harmonica; and before the Christmas break, the students performed a harmonica concert for their parents, friends, and the congregation.
Many who were once tutored as elementary students have now joined YSC as youth volunteers to help tutor younger children, adding another generation to this multi-generational ministry. The church pairs the youth volunteers with younger students, maintaining an age difference of at least four years between the youth tutor and the student. Older adults assist the youth tutors with their tutoring skills and knowledge.
The fruits of this ministry are rich. Intergenerational relationships are being built between children, youth, and older adults. Students are becoming more proficient in their school work. Older adults are using their skills to make a difference in the lives of children and youth, and the congregation is playing a vital role in the life of the community.
Some Questions for Discussion
- What opportunities exist for intergenerational ministry in your community?
- How are older adults in your congregation empowered to use their knowledge and skills to make a positive difference in the community?