CROSS-GENERATIONAL GROUP EXPERIENCES A YEAR OF GROWTH THROUGH COVID-19
Sharing Time with Elders Project (STEP) brought its entire volunteer program on to Zoom throughout COVID-19 and saw 400% growth
OLYMPIA, Wash., May 25, 2021 – Today, Sharing Time with Elders Project (STEP) announces one full year of unprecedented success in engagement through COVID-19. Founded in Olympia, WA in 2014 by Linda Terry, STEP then expanded to Victoria, BC in 2018. The program continues to encourage cross-generational communication between youth and elders, promoting tolerance through shared ideas, and working to change today’s social concept of aging to a vibrant future of health, peace and understanding between the generations.
Since 2014, elders and young people have met every other Saturday morning, creating friendships, sharing stories, and putting on special events. While in-person activities have ceased, STEP has been able to bridge the gap not only between generations, but between cities, states and even countries – meeting bi-weekly over Zoom for over a year.
In a time when technology is at the heart of communication, STEP has yet again broken down stereotypes as elders have quickly adapted and learned to use Zoom, growing bi-weekly participants from about 10 people when STEP first went virtual, to about 40 as of May 2021. Many elderly members have overcome technology they had never encountered in order to engage in a program focused on hope, change, advice, and courage – even featuring live music from time to time.
“The openness and thoughtfulness of the youngers is inspiring,” said Patricia, an elder in the program. “This is one of the favorite parts of my life right now.”
“What I find most interesting about going virtual is that we can bring participants from both the U.S. and Canada together,” said Linda Terry, Founder of STEP. “Some of the founding members who moved away are able to join us again. Now, those college-aged kids are in their 20s and have the confidence and innovation to teach the elders much in the way that the elders teach them about history and tradition. Combining the wisdom from both generations has taken the conversations to a whole new level.”
As the world continues to swing in limbo, STEP is able to bring a sense of stability for the young and old alike – growing connections as we all keep each other company over Zoom through this trying time.
About Sharing Time with Elders Project
STEP is an international intergenerational program inspiring people of all ages to bridge the generations through inspiring conversations. Both the younger and older talk and listen to learn about generational similarities and differences. We strive to bridge age barriers, increase mental well-being, promote tolerance, and to help permanently change today’s social concept of aging to a vibrant future of peace and understanding between the generations. STEP inspires a sense of belonging, and wisdom and the realization that disparate age groups can have genuine fun together.