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Global Intergenerational Conference Begins

By June 14, 2017No Comments2 min read

The 19th Global Intergenerational Conference started with a bang and the beat of African drums on Wednesday, June 14, thanks to Xalaat Africa Drummers and Dancers from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts. This award-winning ensemble entertained an enthusiastic audience of conference attendees at a kick-off reception, held at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee. The theme of the evening and the conference: Generations Remixed.

Sr. Edna Lonergan, president of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, and Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, represented the conference’s co-hosts in welcoming some of over 250 conference-goers from 12 different countries. “We’re one world, valuing all ages,” Sr. Edna said. “We understand how much our elders need children in their lives, and how much our children need the wisdom and attention of older adults.”

Donna Butts added, “A community is created when people share a vision, combine their wisdom and lead with their hearts. Our hope is that by the time we leave here on Friday, you’ll feel part of a new community, a new network and stay connected.”

The city of Two Harbors, Minnesota, was recognized at the event as a 2017 Best Intergenerational Community by Generations United and the MetLife Foundation. Drew Christensen, a college student active in local intergenerational programs in Two Harbors, accepted the award on behalf of a team that traveled seven hours by van to attend.

Two Harbors is being saluted for its over 50 intergenerational programs and partnerships. They include “AGE to age” which creates activities that engage people of all ages to interact, have conversations and share dreams. For example, their “Tech and Coffee” program provides teens the opportunity to help teach older adults how to use cell phones, iPads and other devices. The city also boasts an intergenerational radio station.

Another program is “Reading Pals” which partners senior citizens and students at an elementary school to read together each week. The city is also about to launch “Operation: I see the Light” in which teenagers and adults will help senior citizens replace or install light bulbs in hard-to-reach places or where there is a danger of falling. Other Best IG Community finalists were Surprise, Arizona, Jenks Public Schools in Jenks, Oklahoma, and the Town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

The kick-off concluded with a spirited performance by the Jazzy Jewels, a talented dance troupe made up of women, ages 65 to 82. They even took time to show the girls from Xalaat Africa a few moves in a show-stopping final number.

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