While the 16th century sparked an endless search for the legendary Fountain of Youth, perhaps the explorers would have saved a great deal of energy if they had just turned to Dr. Bill Thomas. One principle of the Eden Alternative, founded by Dr. Thomas, indicates that a key to Elders discovering a “life worth living” is not instilling eternal youth, but rather, it is engaging with youth itself.
Abounding with enthusiasm and curiosity, children serve a valuable purpose in our lives. So often we acknowledge only the changes that occur across the lifespan and forget what we as people have in common, from our first breath to our last: we are always learning, growing, and changing. Relationships that cross generational boundaries are a reminder that we all have things to learn from and contribute to one another, no matter how many candles on the birthday cake.
In Green House homes, we commit to “creating a human habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with children.” We recognize that merely being in the same room is not sufficient for fostering a sense of trust and knowing between two individuals. We acknowledge the importance of a person-centered approach by developing intergenerational activities based on social histories and individual interests. We nurture the dignity of people across the lifespan by supporting age- and ability-appropriate activities, while still providing opportunities for challenge and growth.
Explore your community to discover opportunities for fostering relationships across generations, and share your story so we can learn from the challenges and successes of one another. Before you embark on an expedition for the Fountain of Youth, consider that perhaps the secret to creating a “life worth living” has been right in front of you all along!