Valley Senior Services starts pen pal program to promote intergenerational connection
The Senior Services organization is looking for seniors 60+ or older to join the program
FARGO, N.D. — Sharing stories with each other is a powerful way for people to build relationships.
With the new Pen Pal program at Valley Senior Services, seniors will be able to form those kind of connections with a younger generation.
“The seniors would write a letter to the youth and then the youth would write back to those seniors,” said Valley Senior Services nutrition coordinator Shannon Lang. “It could be anything about their daily life, questions about how they grew up, what is their favorite toy or what is their favorite movie, book. Just something to connect them on a more personal level.”
Stemming from the idea of creating more volunteer opportunities for youth, the program will pair seniors with kids between kindergarten and fifth grade at the YMCA Learning Center.
It will benefit the youth.
“For the kids, it is kind of learning empathy and kindness, connecting with maybe another geenration they have never had the opportunity to,” says Lang.
And will help the older generation as well.
“We exist to help seniors enjoy life as late in life as they can and live independently. We think this is a way to help them emotionally, socially, and to connect with young people,” Director of Valley Senior Services Brian Arett said.
For some of the seniors, the program is a chance to share their love for writing and storytelling.
“We have one guy that signed up and I think he has been a pen pal for over fifty four years,” reveals Arett. “He is just like this life-long pen pal essentially that wants to be a part of this program that wants to take what he loves to do and invest it in these younger people.”
The goal of the program is that the intergenerational bond formed between these groups will have lasting impacts on the lives of all of those involved.
“That helps us emotionally,” explains Arett. “It helps us socially to connect with other people and if you feel good emotionally, it benefits your health.”