Young and old come together through poetry

Our new pilot program brings young and old together through poetry. It helps seniors find a renewed sense of purpose while providing youth with valuable life lessons.

Earlier this summer BakerRipley launched an intergenerational pilot program called Excavating Wisdom. The program consists of a series of workshops where seniors and youth will share their experiences and learn how to capture them through poetry.

In the communities we serve, youth struggle with challenges such as coping skills and dealing with adversity. Our seniors are also challenged with struggles of isolation and finding purpose in a fast changing world. Ultimately the goal is to give seniors a renewed sense of purpose and connection. By sharing their life journey with youth, they are helping younger generations prepare for the future with valuable life lessons.

During the first session in late June young and old learned about storytelling and started an exercise of self-discovery.

• Who am I?
• Why am I here?
• Where am I headed?
Through poetry the group will learn a form of writing that will spark creativity and reflection to empower the participant to find a way to cope with life’s challenges and build confidence of sharing their journey.

“It’s helped me see things from a different viewpoint,” says Dexter Lara an 11th grader who’s participating in the program. “I hear what other people say, react and write something.”

She’s been writing poetry for some time and hopes that by the end of the program older adults will have a better understanding of youth.

Dr. Virgil Wood, a former lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King and one of the program fellows, is providing guidance and motivation to both youth and seniors.

“It’s really a privilege to do this work,” adds Dr. Wood, now 86 years old. “By the end of August we look to have created a workable model to this program.”

He explains that by doing this, seniors are developing their legacy and leaving valuable lessons that will help younger people thrive and so on. This is all part of a nationwide initiative by The Alliance called The Second Acts Strong Communities program. Their mission is to help its network of human-serving organizations leverage the time and expertise of older adults. BakerRipley was selected as one of ten demonstration sites in the country that will be piloting the program. Each site will have a grant-funded fellow like Dr. Wood to provide leadership and guidance on the project.

At BakerRipley we believe in the lasting positive benefits of intergenerational programs and have been setting up the foundation for more successful initiatives.

We thank AARP Texas for being a summer sponsor of this initiative and for providing the group with amazing leather journals.

Did you know?
Despite the well documented positive impact of direct service programs that pair caring adults with those in need of support, there are still too few adults with the time and inclination to help meet community needs by working in direct service:

• 24 million at-risk youth ages eight to 18 could benefit from a mentoring relationships with a caring adult

• 1 million infants and toddlers in Birth to 5/Head Start centers and classrooms in need of well trained teachers and supports

• 8 million people over the age of 85 who could benefit from trustworthy, reliable neighbors and friendly visitors