Student Voices | Florida Students United
iGEN –Meaningful Intergenerational Connections
We wish to create a more accepting culture and generate positivity and cooperation with intergenerational age groups. While this initiative was originally identified during the COVID-19 pandemic, this problem exceeds the scope we initially aimed to serve. Both younger and older people involved have come to realize the value in ongoing, healthy, intergenerational relationships. It is our vision to support, engage, and impact other people in understanding the importance of iGEN.
Guided by the principles of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model, iGEN is committed to establishing meaningful connections between students and elder communities across the state of Florida. Our mission is to reduce the negative effects of isolation and loneliness on the social and emotional wellbeing of younger and older people.
Secretary, Florida Department
of Elder Affairs
“The Student Voices iGEN Committee of Florida has put the mental wellness of Florida’s seniors at the top of their agenda,” said Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) Secretary Richard Prudom. “DOEA has been on the forefront of social isolation and mental wellness initiatives for older adults and we are thrilled to partner with iGEN. The grassroots, student-led organization is making healthy intergenerational relationships possible throughout the state.”
iGEN – Origin Logan’s Story
Logan Viera; iGEN Chair
My vision for iGEN started when I came across an article from the New York Times that discussed the impact the coronavirus has had on elder populations. The authors went into detail about how social distancing and other state regulations aimed at protecting those most vulnerable resulted in depression and loneliness. Issues related to social distancing include undue apathy towards older generations and disparate digital opportunities to connect with family and friends.
This triggered me to express my newfound desire to help close the intergenerational (iGEN) gap to foster social and emotional wellbeing. To accomplish this, I turned to Dr. Tamara Gibson-Alonso, a University of North Florida Instructor and mentor for Student Voices | Florida Students United. I worked with Dr. Gibson-Alonso on forums dealing with educational inclusion and student-centered learning in the past. Together we shared a similar passion for helping others. Moving forward, we extended the work of iGEN to 13 partner organizations within Student Voices.
We identified that the best way to battle loneliness and isolation is through authentic and ongoing communication. With support of various organizations, we represent, we aim to foster student activism to address the very real issue of isolation and loneliness, in part, through virtual meetings on Zoom! We do this by playing games like Family Feud and Jeopardy, and also spending time sharing memories, history, and laughter. We do this work by forming intergenerational (iGEN) connections between students and older populations. In doing this, we recognized the power of games such as Jeopardy and Family Feud, especially those that are appealing to both younger and older audiences alike.
In other words, considering the present COVID-19 pandemic, iGEN unites multiple age groups to promote positive mental health and wellness. iGEN, a committee of Student Voices, is growing in prominence. Our work was recently published in Florida's Elder Update which is sent out to over 40,000 homes in Florida. Furthermore, Secretary Prudom with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, supports our work and remains optimistic about our collaboration. Students throughout Florida are looking forward to continuing partnerships with local area agencies on aging - we hope that's you!
Click here to read a recent update about the work of iGEN in the FDOEA Elder Update.
We at iGEN will continue to strengthen our partnership with communities and with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs to support, engage, and positively impact intergeneration connections. Students involved in iGEN will be equipped to develop meaningful relationships across generations. Further, we will continue to plan events to cultivate partnerships with other organizations and individuals in the spirt of inclusion, good health, and wellness.
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