Ruth Blackman is a lively and resourceful octogenarian in New York who is the founder of Connecting the Generations, a creative response to the pandemic connecting arguably the most vulnerable population of nursing home residents with young children. Connecting the Generations was born after Ruth’s visit as a dementia care counselor to Rosa, who resides in a NYC Nursing Home. As Ruth got up to leave Rosa looked up at her and said, “Don’t forget me”, and then came the long pandemic. The pandemic has caused increased isolation, hopelessness, depression and new mental health issues among the general public, especially elders and young children.
Connecting the Generations aims to ease these feelings of isolation in a simple way through the means of art. Children in Head Start or daycare centers and schools can write a message or draw a picture in a card which will then be distributed to a nearby nursing home. Ruth drops off cards for the children and then picks them up and delivers them to the nursing homes. This is in keeping with CDC Guidelines. Although we hope the terrible days of isolation are behind us, this connection between young and old will continue.
So far four nursing homes and six children’s centers in Manhattan are involved in the project. Ruth believes there is potential to grow Connecting the Generations or replicate it in other communities. Connecting the Generations is a win-win program for elders and young children, the latter of whom will learn the rewards of giving back to their community. In addition, they will make a difference in the lives of many elders.
Thinking of You Week was happy to reach out to Makers to support Ruth’s initiative with cards. Ruth is available to give advice and suggestions to anyone who is inspired to start a similar project in their own community. She can be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org.