Writing Across Generations

RSVP of Spokane County is piloting a virtual intergenerational project to connect local high school students with AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers to share stories, forge connections, and promote the benefits of journaling and creative expression.

For our pilot, we'll be partnering with The Community School (TCS), a Spokane public high school with a unique "project-centered" curriculum. The project launched April 12, 2021 with 28 TCS students and 16 AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteers participating.

A virtual intergenerational project in partnership with

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 (WAG) works:

 

  • Participants are placed in groups of one or two volunteers and two to four students for 8 weeks, meeting 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 generate group conversations and build relationships
     

  • 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

Our Mission

RSVP of Spokane County promotes senior volunteer opportunities to build a stronger community through partnerships that impact community needs.

AmeriCorps Seniors logo navy blue
 
About AmeriCorps Seniors

AmeriCorps Seniors helps meet the needs and challenges of America's communities using resources provided by grants and the energy and efforts of citizens age 55 and over. Grants administered by AmeriCorps Seniors provide funding for the following programs:

Foster Grandparents are role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs.

RSVP volunteers utilize their skills and talents while serving in a variety of volunteer activities within their communities.

Senior Companions provide assistance and friendship to older adults who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills.

Becoming a WAG Mentor
 

NOTE: The current WAG session is already underway and we are no longer recruiting volunteers for this project. We are optimistic about running this project again in the future, so subscribe to our email newsletter and follow us on Facebook to stay informed about future opportunities to be a WAG mentor!
 

  • In addition to being enrolled as an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer, WAG mentors must register as volunteers of the YMCA of the Inland Northwest and undergo a criminal background check

    • CLICK HERE to access the YMCA volunteer application​

    • Under "Location you are interested in volunteering," select "Corporate Office" or leave the boxes unchecked

    • Under "Area you are interested in volunteering," select "Other" and write in "RSVP"

    • Next to "Why are you interested in volunteering with us?" put "Writing Across Generations"

    • Return your completed application to rsvp@ymcainw.org, fax to (509) 343-4096, or mail to YMCA Corporate Office, 1126 N Monroe, Spokane, WA 99201, attn: RSVP
       

  • You'll need a computer or tablet, stable internet connection, and access to Microsoft Teams (free to install, or connect through your browser)

    • If you don't have a webcam, RSVP has a limited supply of webcams available for volunteers to borrow. Just email rsvp@ymcainw.org and let us know you need one.
       

  • Prior to the start of the project, we will provide training to all interested WAG mentors on using Microsoft Teams and the WAG online journaling platform.

For more information, contact RSVP Director Justin Eisenstadt at jeisenstadt@ymcainw.org or (509) 720-5635.