"I feeeeel good! I knew that I would!"
Those aren't the words you might expect to hear from an 80+ year old woman, using a walker, living in an assisted living facility for older adults.
But there she was, dancing as she walked with two hands gripped to her walker.
We had just finished another rehearsal for the "Intergenerational Rock Band," which is a very wordy name for the group we've formed with The Arbor Company. Every week, high school and college students come to Arbor Terrace at Crabapple to sing rock and roll songs with the residents.
Yep, you heard right. Rock and roll songs. The Beatles, The Clash, James Brown, The Black Keys, Bob Seger, and more.
"I love this group! It keeps me young, makes me want to dance!" one member told me after a rehearsal. It's statements like this that make the group what it is, but the bigger vision goes far beyond the individuals, both young and old, that come to that room to dance and sing every week.
The Intergenerational Rock Band was born out of an experience during my undergraduate and graduate degree studies at The Florida State University. One of my professors, Dr. Alice-Ann Darrow, started the group to give students an opportunity to gain some experience working with older adults. Her inspiration came from the film "Young @ Heart."
Dr. Darrow introduced the twist of having the group being a mix of young and old, with the hope that both groups would learn and grow from each other as a result of the experience. The younger generation might realize that the older is not stuck in their ways or grouchy, the older generation might learn that their young counterparts aren't buried in their phones and disrespectful.
But even that isn't the bigger vision.
The group culminates after 5 months of practice with a performance in the community. This is where the bigger vision manifests itself.
The big vision is to change the perception of the two generations by the general public.
You don't have to look far to see negative stories and stereotypes about young people, or older adults.
Young people are entitled.
Old people are intolerant.
By the end of the performance, there should be no possible way that those stereotypes and biases about either generation could hold true in minds.
That original group from Florida State University has spawned groups all across the country, and we couldn't be more thrilled to be bringing such an exciting program to the Atlanta area. Stay tuned for performance details!
The Intergenerational Rock Band is going strong, but we NEED MORE YOUNG VOLUNTEERS! Interested in helping us out? Fill out a consultation form and put "Intergen Rock Band" in the comment section!
Image credit: Drury University Intergenerational Rock Band