connect / 2021
Safely connecting teens and seniors to get the job done!
Generation Connect mutually benefits two generations by fostering safe, neighborhood connections by bringing vetted teens and vetted seniors together virtually. Teens learn valuable communication skills and are provided with a sense of purpose as a mentor/mentee relationship with the senior is built, as well as earn community service hours through our virtual programs and eventually, an hourly wage for in-person services (suspended at this time). The seniors learn new skills, increase generativity, and receive assistance with everyday tasks.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Living with extended family is common for seniors around the world. But in the U.S., seniors are more likely to age in place. About 28% of seniors live alone, and the percentage increases with age (44% of women 75 or older live alone). Seniors face problems like depression and isolation. Even in homecare facilities, seniors are not able to fully benefit from social and emotional support; this has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Additionally, teens are struggling to learn soft skills needed to be successful outside a school setting. They also struggle to earn the required community service hours needed to graduate. Since 2005 LA County has required students earn a minimum number of service hours to graduate. Building soft skills and community service go hand in hand as they promote leadership, self-awareness, confidence and compassion. If this problem is not addressed, the number of seniors facing isolation and depression could increase, and high school graduation rates could suffer.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Our virtual programs are designed to take place in 8 weeks - 2 weeks of onboarding and 6 weeks of sessions pairing teens with seniors. Onboarding for teens focuses on soft skills and communication. We learn about the power of empathy and active listening, and practice by role playing. With seniors, we’ve found that technology training is important. We practice how to use different platforms, like Zoom and test accessories, like headphones. We require everyone to attend at least one onboarding session and give the option for additional 1 on 1 help if needed. Week 1 is a group session used to introduce all participants to each other. Week 2 we pick a topic like tech support and teens lead the discussion in 1 on 1 breakouts to assist seniors. Week 3 we do a group activity like online trivia. Week 4 and 5 the teens and seniors trade off leading breakout room discussions to learn more about each other and talk about common interests. The final week seniors provide “Golden Nuggets,” advice they wish their younger selves would have known. With our virtual programs we immediately address the isolation challenges with seniors by providing supportive social services. We help establish new relationships which are critical to wellbeing, promote Generativity, and provide opportunities to learn new skills. Teens gain a sense of purpose and appreciation for an older generation, form mentee/mentor relationships, and receive community service hours, all while helping build community.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for our users through participation in our programming. We use our platform to safely connect two often overlooked generations on opposite ends of the age spectrum by using their differences as opportunities to amplify the value both equally bring to the table. Our focus is on the communities we come from and live in, so building a presence in Los Angeles is crucial to our success and know we can bring positive change to Southern California and eventually, the entire state. This grant will help us onboard users to our highly rated virtual program to affect the alarming rates of depression and isolation in teens and seniors since the implementation of COVID restrictions. Our program aims to help those who can best benefit from intergenerational connection. As communities reopen, we help our users ease back into in person connections by building trust and rapport, having a major impact on our target audience’s emotional and social wellbeing.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We constantly ask for feedback from all participants so we can improve in every aspect of our work. We send out an initial questionnaire to gauge interests and needs, to make sure our sessions benefit the specific people attending. We send out surveys after each session and at the conclusion of a program, asking for feedback on their overall impression and any additional comments. Our ratings rank in 90+ percentile, and since our initial pilot (1 session/week for 6 weeks), we have expanded to 3 days/week for 6 weeks, tripling the number of participants in only 2 rounds of programming. In addition, we have received letters of endorsement from cities, school representatives and individual participants. From the City of Inglewood, Geoffrey Okamoto, Human Services Manager expressed, “These virtual interactions are very necessary for our seniors…It is an important and crucial time in our history and for you and your organization to provide this opportunity, we are more than grateful.”
Which of the connect metrics will you impact?
- Social and emotional support
- Residential segregation
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN