FSW’s Intergenerational Program Wins National Award

January 26, 2011

My Second Home Wins 2011 MindAlert Award from the American Society on Aging and the MetLife Foundation; Award Recognizes Innovations in Mental Fitness Programming for Older Adults

MOUNT KISCO, NY — The American Society on Aging in collaboration with the MetLife Foundation is pleased to announce that the Joining Elders With Early Learners (JEWEL) program was selected as the winner of the 2011 MindAlert Award   The JEWEL program is an intergenerational program, a collaboration between My Second Home of Family Services of Westchester (MSH) and the Mount Kisco Child Care Center (MKCCC), both of Mt. Kisco. My Second Home is an adult day program that provides a safe, nurturing and home-like environment for older adults. Eighty-seven percent of participants have some degree of cognitive impairment from mild memory loss to Alzheimer’s disease. MSH and MKCCC began their collaboration in 1998 with intergenerational activities taking place at each other’s sites.  In 2002, they moved into a new shared site that was specially designed to promote interactions between the generations while offering each group dedicated space to meet the needs of their participants.

The JEWEL program brings older adults from My Second Home and children from MKCCC together several times a day to enjoy arts and crafts, gardening, music, dance, reading and baking. An Intergenerational Coordinator works with the staff of both agencies to design activities that are developmentally appropriate.  Program evaluations have shown that older adults in the JEWEL program demonstrate improvements in cognitive functioning, socialization and expressiveness.  More than 90 percent of caregivers noted a positive change in their older adult family member after attending the program, including an increase in self-esteem. The program was awarded an Intergenerational Shared Site Best Practices Award in 2008 from MetLife and Generations United and was recently recognized as one of eight programs nationally in the Alliance for Children and Families New Age of Aging report, “Impact and Innovation:  Effective Models and Practices in Serving Older Adults.”

“We are so excited to win this prestigious award,” notes Rina Bellamy, Director of My Second Home. “The American Society of Aging and the MetLife Foundation are doing such great work in promoting the cognitive health of older adults. We feel fortunate to be recognized for our efforts to provide a rich, stimulating experience to older adults in our intergenerational program.”

Susan Carpenter, whose mother attended My Second Home for five years while she suffered from Alzheimer’s, notes: “The older adults who attend My Second Home are greeted each day with a smile, made to feel welcome and respected.”  The children from Mount. Kisco Day Care Center “not only enrich the lives of the older adults, they learn from these ‘grandmas and grandpas’ about the continuum of life,” adds Carpenter.

The JEWEL program will be honored during the National Forum on Brain Fitness, held on April 27, 2011 in San Francisco in conjunction with the Aging in America Conference.

The MindAlert Award is designed to recognize outstanding programs throughout the United States that provide mental stimulation and creative outlets in later life.  Research has shown that cognitive decline is not an inevitable part of the aging process.  New research offers a striking model of aging as a time of brain growth that can offer older adults qualitatively better lives filled with more knowledge and wisdom—and an increased capacity to contribute to society.

“The Review Committee found the JEWEL program’s shared site model to be innovative and unique, and we are extremely pleased to have an intergenerational program named the recipient of this year’s award,” said MetLife MindAlert Review Committee Member Ruth Heller, Program Director at the University of Oregon’s Osher Lifelong Learning Center in Eugene, Ore. Heller added that My Second Home’s intergenerational program truly engages older adults cognitively, physically and socially.

Founded in 1954, Family Services of Westchester is a non-profit mental health and social services agency dedicated to strengthening and supporting children, families and adults at every stage of the life cycle. FSW serves 30,000 people each year through its 50 plus programs. To learn more about the agency, check out its website at www.fsw.org.