Rio Grande – The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College Social Work Student Council hosted the 18th annual Intergenerational Fall Festival to bring people of all ages together for an evening of fun, food and friendship. Associate Professor of Social Work Sheli Bernstein-Goff said the festival was organized to emphasize a sense of community and to celebrate life.
“We want to share the importance of intergenerational connections with our students and our community. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in technology and forget to connect with others in person. Building intergenerational relationships within a community helps us grow and reconnect with our own roots,” Bernstein-Goff said. “Having this event on campus helps us teach students that life is about living and what living means. We want to be able to celebrate that together. Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead said ‘Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of the nation,’ and this is the idea behind this year’s event.”
Each year, the festival brings people and families from a variety of backgrounds and ages together. For the event, the Social Work Program also works with the Area Agency on Aging to provide information about services such as home and community-based long-term care resources and programs for older adults or community members with a disability, information about Medicare, and wellness programs and opportunities for those age 60 and over. The students also provide information surrounding gerontology, the study of the aging process, to the community through activities such as a Jeopardy style trivia game. Adjunct Professor of Social Work and Area Agency on Aging Community Outreach and Training Manager, Bonnie Dingess, said she enjoys seeing all age groups network and appreciate one another’s company at the festival.
“We always enjoy participating in this event and sharing important information about the services we provide so that our community can be well informed about resources in their community. The added bonus is appreciating the intergenerational aspect and watching everyone interact with and enjoy each other,” Dingess said.
Bernstein-Goff said the Social Work Student Council spent several hours of time and effort putting the event together, including board games, trivia, and children’s activities such as face painting. Sophomore Social Work Major Megan Amato said she believes hosting the festival has been a great educational experience for everyone involved.
“It’s been really fun trying to come up with activities that appeal to different ages because we get to see how much we have in common and to create a space where everyone can just come together and have a great time,” Amato said. “It’s great that coming together over a meal as simple as pizza can start conversations and create bonds for so many people. It reflects our class discussions of how everyone is interconnected. I’m grateful to our professors and Rio for giving us the opportunity to continue this event and helping us make it a success.”
For more information on the Social Work Program at Rio, contact Program Director Paul Dovyak at 740-245-7263.