A virtual intergenerational project developed by RSVP of Spokane County in partnership with McMaster University
RSVP of Spokane County is piloting a virtual intergenerational project to connect students in grades 8-12 with AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers to share stories, forge connections, and promote the benefits of journaling and creative expression. For our pilot, we are partnering with The Community School (TCS), a Spokane public high school with a unique project-based curriculum.
Writing Across Generations officially launched on April 12, 2021 with 28 TCS students and 16 volunteers participating.
This project is a collaboration with researchers at McMaster University who are studying creative and supportive ways to improve the cognitive and social wellbeing of older adults.
The platform they've developed, WritLarge, is an online resource for older adults to anonymously share personal life stories. Users can explore stories using themes, keywords, and other criteria, or use the 'Story Roulette' function to read randomly selected entries.
Here's how Writing Across Generations works:
Participants are placed in groups of one or two volunteers and two to four students for 8 weeks, meeting once or twice a week using Microsoft Teams breakout rooms
Volunteers are registered as YMCA volunteers and undergo background screenings prior to participating
Sessions are recorded for project staff review
During the first four sessions, volunteers and students use discussion prompts as well as stories from WritLarge to engage in group discussions.
Participants write post-session journal entries and post them to the Writing Across Generations online platform (powered by WritLarge)
Group members read and discuss each other's entries at the following session
During the final phase of the project, each group identifies a significant life story to adapt into a 5-10 minute podcast, with volunteers serving as the subjects and students serving as the hosts/interviewers.
In class, students are learning how to outline, record, and edit a podcast; studying the elements of great podcasts; and learning how to incorporate intros, background music, sound effects, and other elements
Inspired by This American Life, each group's podcast will tackle the same theme in their own unique way: "My Favorite Mistake."
The best podcasts will be featured on our website and shared with the greater Spokane County community.