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Group bridges gap between generations

Adam Greene

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For some, visiting a nursing home is exasperating, but for several Alabama students it is a venture to connect one generation to the next.

In the summer of 2009, senior Benton Atchison met with the then president of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor fraternity, Will Brome, to strategize the launch of Re: Generation, a program designed to connect the elderly with younger cohorts.

“The idea for Re: Generation stems from spending time with my great-grandmother when she was in a nursing home,” Atchison said. “Oftentimes during my visits, other residents were just as thrilled to see me as my great-grandmother. I began to realize that a lot of them had limited connection with the outside world or, in far too many situations, their own family.”

Atchison and Brome coordinated a lunch for September 2009 at Forest Manor Nursing Home in Northport, with 50 UA students participating.

“We launched at Forest Manor, because it was one of the more marginalized nursing homes in the community,” Atchison said. “Their funds had been recently cut, and as a result, their activities budget was in jeopardy.  The first event was a luau, featuring Coke floats, a man playing a ukulele, and a cakewalk.

“The students danced with the residents that could and sat and talked with residents that were incapable of dancing,” he said.

Co-founder and senior advisor Brome, a senior majoring in political science and economics, said the main goal of Re: Generation is to bridge the gap between two generations.

“We surround the residents with youth and energy in order to rejuvenate them and enable them to impart wisdom to us,” Brome said. “That is the brochure goal, but my ultimate goal is to create an organization that can get students into as many nursing home and retirement communities [as possible] in this area,” he said.

Re: Generation currently works with three Tuscaloosa nursing homes, Atchison said, but is looking to expand to Montgomery within the year.

No formal training is needed to interact with the elderly, but in case of an emergency, Re: Generation works with nursing homes that have a 24-hour staff on hand in case of a health emergency, Atchison said.

Organization president Carly Evans, a sophomore majoring in nursing, said the service project that evolved into its own student organization has been a growing experience.

Evans said that watching the program develop and expand has been incredible.

“Getting to know the residents of these retirement facilities has been a blessing to me, and I am encouraged by their vigor for life and their interest in college students,” she said. “Senior citizens are some of the wisest people in our community, and I feel that they have given so much of themselves for us that we should in turn give back to them.”

Evans invites all students and members of the community to attend Re: Generation’s March event At Forest Manor Nursing Home on March 7 at 2 p.m. Any inquiries about the event or the program in general may be sent to uofa.regeenration@gmail.com.

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Group bridges gap between generations