Bridging the generational gap and promoting literacy

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Denise DuBois

The Hurtsboro Senior Center was alive with joyful noise on July 2 as senior citizens and young students gathered for a celebration of literacy. Troy University’s BRIDGE (Building Relationships in Diverse Generational Environments) Literacy Program celebrated the end of its two-week program where the two groups came together to learn from each other.

Shavaun Franklin said the goal of the program was to bring youth and seniors together to share history and incorporate literacy. Students talked with and learned the wise ways of the older adults across the table from them, then got to write books about their lives.

“They talked about the times they walked to school,” Franklin said of the differences in the two generations. “They talked about indoor plumbing. That was awesome for them to experience. Also, they were born in houses with midwives instead of hospitals. They were learning so much about each other’s history. A lot of our seniors did not finish school, so these kids are so blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity for free education.”

Twenty-one children signed up for the day program along with what ended up being 38 seniors. The children learned to write autobiographies and got some advice on how to succeed.

Air Force General Edward Crowell made an appearance at the celebration event and spoke to the children. Crowell grew up in Hurtsboro and served 35 years in the Air Force before retiring in 2009. He also sits on Troy University’s Board of Trustees.

“Everybody in the area cared. It was a close knit group of families,” he said of growing up in Hurtsboro. “Everyone worked diligently and you were not left unattended. Teachers cared. Teachers got to know the parents. The parents cared. They worked together and you were in between. Now I see something similar. It’s a community that still thrives on cohesiveness and togetherness. The caring part strongly exists.”

Crowell said he is happy to see so many senior citizens helping the youth because it means they care about the next generation.

The program is possible because of a grant from Dollar General and the work of Troy University.