Intergenerational fair designed to strengthen families, enhance communities

May 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The State College Friends School and Penn State's Intergenerational Leadership Institute are partnering to host the area's first community-wide intergenerational gathering, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at the State College Friends School, 1900 University Drive.

Organizers say the Intergenerational Friends Fair is designed to bring together participants of all ages for art, storytelling, music, baking, dancing, gardening and other activities. The day-long event also will feature interactive exhibits and events planned by local organizations working to expand opportunities for intergenerational communication, learning and living throughout the State College area.

The event is an offshoot of the intergenerational programming retreat held last fall and organized by members of the Intergenerational Leadership Institute, a certificate training program for adults ages 55 and older. More than 50 concerned individuals and organizations convened to share information about local resources available to older adults; discuss the need for increased opportunities for intergenerational housing, recreation and other services; and brainstorm ways to create outlets for elders to share history, wisdom and skills, while also learning new skills and interests from younger citizens.

"There's a treasure trove of history, expertise and creativity among older adults in our community," said Lori Pacchioli, director of advancement for State College Friends School.

Having worked with older adults in a retirement community setting for more than 10 years before joining Friends School, Pacchioli said she has experienced firsthand the gifts that older adults have to offer, especially to young children, teens and young families.

"Often, in our society, older adults become isolated and then somewhat invisible; their gifts are hidden," she said. "When I attended the Intergenerational Leadership Institute workshop and learned about the great work being done locally to build programs that foster the sharing of time, experience, skills and friendship across generations, I knew immediately that Friends School could be a bridge-builder by hosting a community-wide event."

The Intergenerational Friends Fair is designed to bring together participants of all ages for art, storytelling, music, baking, dancing, gardening and other activities. The day-long event also will feature interactive exhibits and events planned by local organizations working to expand opportunities for intergenerational communication, learning and living throughout the State College area.

Matthew Kaplan, professor of intergenerational programs and aging in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and coordinator of the Intergenerational Leadership Institute, noted that the fair will provide a unique opportunity.

"By now, most people have heard the saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Well, the Intergenerational Friends Fair is all about strengthening the intergenerational village," he said. "The event will be a multimedia celebration of the bonds of caring and community that connect and enrich the lives of all generations."

Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, which is providing partial support for the Intergenerational Friends Fair, emphasized the community-building significance of the event.

"This event will highlight some ways in which the skills, knowledge and experience of older adults help to strengthen families and contribute to community quality of life for all residents, regardless of age," said Goetz.

In many ways, the Friends School is the perfect place to hold the Intergenerational Friends Fair, according to Pacchioli. This pre-K to 8th grade independent school has a long-standing relationship with Foxdale Village, a neighboring retirement community. Highlights from some of the Foxdale/Friends School intergenerational projects will be on display at the event.

This family-friendly event also will feature more than a dozen hands-on exhibits and activities developed by other community organizations that run intergenerational programs and activities. Businesses and organizations with related interests can submit requests for programming or exhibit space to Pacchioli at lori@scfriends.org.

State College Friends School is an independent pre-K through 8th grade school offering vigorous academics in a nurturing environment, where the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship are the foundation of curriculum and culture of the school.

The Intergenerational Leadership Institute is a certificate training program offered by Penn State for adults ages 55 and older wishing to develop or expand intergenerational programs in their areas of interest. The institute is co-sponsored by the Centre County Office of Aging, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Centre County office of Penn State Extension, Penn State Center for Healthy Aging, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State. For more information, contact Matt Kaplan at msk15@psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 21, 2019