Shorewood, Wisconsin Connecting Generations
The Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin established a framework to help serve residents of all ages beginning in 1999. The impetus for these actions can be summed up by one resident, Lynn Sager, who upon retirement knew she'd need three things: a friendly and supportive community, volunteer opportunities and easy access to goods and services. Of those priorities, she explained, "Shorewood has exceeded all my expectation for senior living and enjoyment."
With guidance from the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, Shorewood was part of the county's Intergenerational Council at its point of creation. The subsequent Connecting Caring Communities Partnership, to develop neighborhood-based programs in seven targeted neighborhoods including Shorewood, was another example of efforts to nurture intergenerational programming. A 2013 Intergenerational Symposium drew more than 360 people including students from 13 area schools, older adult leaders and elected officials and staff working in community agencies such as Shorewood Connects.
Both the Shorewood School District and the Village of Shorewood historically have taken responsibility for ensuring that Shorewood is an intergenerational community. Today, the Shorewood Connects Intergenerational Work Group is the "intergenerational glue" that unites village government, the school district, the Business Improvement District, youth and older adults.
It's not uncommon to see an 80-year-old sharing a music stand with 22-year-old in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's (UWM) Community Orchestra program. Older people also are taking classes with 20-somethings as part of the UWM's Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning that allows older adults to audit classes at no charge. Young and old take fitness classes together and enjoy special community programming provided by the Shorewood Recreation and Community Service Department, which the school district administers. This department also coordinates volunteer opportunities throughout the school district, for teens, parents, older adults, and other community members. When the Shorewood School District recently evaluated its facilities, it formed a community advisory committee that included older adult residents. Plans are already in the works to connect the new senior housing development to the Shorewood Schools and Shorewood Senior Resource Center. Lastly, an annual "Neighborhood of the Year" competition is held to identify the many positive things neighbors are doing on their block, with special attention to intergenerational activities and neighborhood service projects.
Generations United 2014 Intergenerational Communities Awards