Program director Rachel Shader, said, “Our programs are an opportunity for Seniors to share their life experience with an interested listener. Our goal is for both generations to discover commonalities and shatter stereotypes.”
The program starts on January 30 and lasts eight weeks, with sessions held at the Palisades High School campus. Before the program begins, Shader said, participants will receive a campus map, parking instructions and classroom locations, “so no one will get lost.”
The class meets for 75 minutes from 3 to 4:15 p.m. “I’m asking adults to arrive early (around 2:30 p.m.) to avoid the end of the school parking lot chaos,” Shader said.
Adults must commit to one day a week for eight weeks, and between 10 to 15 older adults are sought. This program is an effort to diminish ageism, combat social isolation and build empathy between seniors and teens.
During the second session of the program, the Sages (adults) and Seekers (students) participate in “speed dating.”
Each adult meets each student for a few minutes. After that session, students pick 3-4 of the Sages they would like to be paired with. Then, a facilitator makes the pairings. (This video talks about the structure of the program: https://sagesandseekers.org/our-programs/#inperson)
“All of our programs used to be in-person only,” Shader said and noted that during the pandemic, online sessions were held. “One of the students who has participated in our online sessions multiple times formed a Sages & Seekers club at PaliHi and has recruited students to participate in this in-person program.
“I have also been working with a teacher at the school who is the club faculty advisor, and she has helped secure permission from the school to hold this program,” Shader said and added the program is a mental health program because it provides students with a nonjudgmental listener to talk to about their problems.
“It also gets them off social media and teaches them how to hold a real conversation with someone,” Shader said.
The program is free, and Palisades Sages can sign up at: https://sagesandseekers.org/enroll/
Each Sage & Seeker pair engages in meaningful conversations and that exchange culminates in a tribute written by the Seeker, then read to the Sage.
Results of our one-year study funded by the National Endowment for the Arts showed that Sages & Seekers intergenerational storytelling intervention increased adolescents’ reported sense of social connectedness, psychological wellbeing, and purpose-in- life, and especially so for participants with the lowest initial levels.
It also increased adolescents’ changing abilities to conceptualize their future goals in terms of ethical and relational values, instead of hedonistic or pragmatic motives, mediated the increases in reported purpose-in-life. Older adult participants showed increased generativity and working memory performance.