NextGen Program Says "Yes, And..." Even in Challenging Times
May 21, 2020
As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, under very unusual circumstances, we are reflecting on our academic year in the NextGen pilot in ways we may not have expected. The thirteen universities, colleges, and youth-serving programs around the country that started out the school year with intentions of providing a high quality intergenerational, community-based learning experience, found themselves having to quickly pivot to meet many unknowns.
While some of the pilot sites had enough on their plates simply working through the logistics of taking course content virtual, some impressively went beyond and found ways to continue communications and relationship building between students and elders. Amidst fear, loss, the unknown, and what seemed to be insurmountable challenges, folks have done exactly what TimeSlips philosophy asks of us - focus on your assets, dream big, and say YES, AND… Here are a few examples of the exciting work we are seeing within these shifting times:
- Focusing on the use of the TimeSlips online training. This includes adding additional students to their cohort; asking more students to post stories to the Creativity Center from their in-person experiences; as well as encouraging students to take the extra step of becoming a Certified Facilitator.
- Taking extra time to reflect on the in-person experience they did have - from discussing challenges to contemplating ways to improve their facilitation.
- Using what they learned to determine what makes a good TimeSlips prompt and developing original prompts - both writing Beautiful Questions and finding or creating their own sets of images.
- Reviewing some of our online resources, such as the Wendy's Neverland project series, the Superheroes Creativity Guide, and the Penelope documentary, in order to inspire planning for what a longer-term project might look like when they can go back to in-person work.
- Sending mail or developing pen pal relationships between students and elders. For some students this meant creating and sending artwork,others sharing photographs of their time together, and/or writing letters or postcards.
- Testing out web-based (Zoom) TimeSlips facilitation and troubleshooting with staff how to make improvements to make it as impactful as possible.
- Watching Second City improv shows to "study" and reflect on facilitation, taking input from your audience, and what the skill of 'yes, and...' can look like in practice. Also playing improv games via Zoom.
- Creating YouTube content that can be shared on aging services partners' internal broadcasting channel.
- Networking with one another around the idea of student groups discussing and/or practicing TimeSlips facilitation with each other. Some students were further along, with more in-person sessions completed, while some may not have gotten any in-person sessions in. Different skill and experience levels as well as a variety of applications (a nursing program paired with a drama therapy program for example) could have great potential for peer to peer reflecting, planning, and coaching.
- Producing culminating content such as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee webinar, e-portfolios, reflection papers, etc
- Building a website and online gallery of artwork students have created in the form of postcards to stay in touch with elders and then hosting Zoom TimeSlips storytelling sessions using their artwork as image prompts.
With these inspiring examples to build off of, TimeSlips will continue to support the NextGen pilot sites in every possible way. Thanks to the flexibility of our partner and funder, LeadingAge, we will continue the pilot program into the fall semester of the 2020-2021 academic year.
In these times we are all caregivers and the need for creative engagement is heightened. If you want to get involved, watch for a webinar and/or presentation at our TimeSlips summer Creative Care Institute that will focus on sharing some ideas and best practices from the field on how to maintain an emphasis on intergenerational relationship building, even in a time of physical distancing.
If you belong to or know of a campus or care community that would benefit from our new TimeSlips resources and coaching on developing intergenerational programs, please connect with us: firstname.lastname@example.org