Chat overheard near the Veterans Park Croquet area, Delray Beach, FL:

A wee girl flatly stated to her new student, "Be careful, sometimes I forget my sippy-cup on the grass."
The eldster student, securing his cup's lid, replied, "I've done that before."
The embolden girl whispered conspiratorially, "Also, I get sooo excited playing, I forget to go to the bathroom."
The fellah chuckled and in a gracious tone said, "Been known to do that, too."
The little girl continued, "I cry sometimes when I don't win."
The fellah nodded, "That'd be me as well."
"You don't have to worry though," said the young lady, "I won't beat you too awful bad."
She felt the warmth of the wrinkled, soft hand. "Okay, now show me how to play this game" said the older fellah.


In an effort to reduce "age silo-ing" the City of Delray Beach Park and Recreation is creating multi-generational activities at Veteran's Park, beautifully located on the Intracoastal Waterway at the foot of Atlantic Boulevard.

The park is already a "natural" draw for both groups: Palm Beach County's premier Lawn Bowling facility and an elaborate outdoor playground are bisected by a building -- thanks to Recreation Site Supervisor Samantha Roland -- that is bucking the demographic trend to convert community facilities to senior centers.
Our society has the tendency to separate people by age groups. The media and other sources perpetuate this tendency by portraying stereotypical images of both the young and the aging. As a result, "wee ones" and "eldsters" do not have many opportunities to interact or to learn about each other firsthand.

While many community centers -- as reported by the National Council on Aging in their Fall 2010 Senior Center Innovations -- add programs to underscore the critical role senior centers play in helping millions of older adults stay healthy, involved, and independent in their homes and communities -- Roland has been bringing in Kindernusik, Zumba and Belly Dancing to augment her Tai Chi, Balance and Breathing and Bridge classes.

"The ultimate intentional goal for these programs has been the creation of a supportive yet transformative environment for the reflection of intergenerational well-being," said Rolands. She continued, "The spaces are being arranged to create harmony and balance, and to use energy in the most positive way. We also want to promote a smooth flow of activity between our wonderful indoor space and our beautiful park setting." From Lawn Bowling, shuffleboard, and Supersized Croquet, to wellness classes that take advantage of the inspiring view and topographical features, the community will be able to enjoy the best this beautiful park has to offer.

Randy Eady, an instructor at the Park, intergenerational rehabilitation specialist, and member of the International Council on Active Aging, is helping guide this effort. As an affiliate of Generations United and a “Generations Manager” he's built plenty of bridges across age-spans and facilitated a better understanding of the diverse make-up of older active adults. In one instance he created a "mini-golf barefoot path" near a Senior Living Center in a small resort village on the Rhine (Bad Breisig) so grandparents and grandchildren could interact in the out-of-doors. He also designed the first intergenerational balance, coordination and fall prevention program in Florida, now in progress at the ACTS Retirement Communities in Boca Raton.

Delray Park and Rec introduces: The Lawn Sport Triathlon
After hosting a "Sport as Art" event with the City of Delray Beach earlier this year and seeing the popularity of SuperSized Croquet, Rolands and Eady realized an Intergenerational-format Lawn Sport Triathlon (Toequet, DiscGolf, and Lawn Bowling) would be the perfect way to showcase the park’s facilities and underscore the benefits of bringing generations together.

Setting up the event required a careful consideration of each sport's space, time and physical exertion requirements. Lawn bowling was already an onsite fixture, so an orientation by instructors from the National Croquet Center and players from the local college on DiscGolf helped to round out the organizers’ experience. A layout was devised to accommodate all three activities in less than four acres of the park. A cap of 112 participants was established. Plus, each team (of four) needed to have 50+ yrs difference between the “Wee and Eldster” player.

Teams were then divided up between the three separate areas: 4 teams at each of the 4 Disc Golf Holes // 8 teams at the 4 Lawn Bowls and 4 teams on the SuperSized Croquet field. After the 1st Round a cut ensued to move the remaining teams on to the 2nd Round. The top two teams eventually went head-to-head in a Championship Round.

Then the remaining two teams in each sport were sent head-to-head for the Individual Lawn Sport Recognition of Best Lawn Bowler // Best SSCroquet // Best Disc Golf.

Planning and developing intergenerational programs is a process that should consider the needs and emotions of all participants. The physical limitations of older adults need to be understood; and if too many adults come into and then leave children's lives, children may become confused or their trust may waver.

Benefits of Intergenerational Programs for young and old
Research indicates that older persons' engagement in physical activity can extend years of active independent life, reduce morbidity and mortality, and lower health care costs. However, less than one-third of Americans age 65 and older meet the recommended level of physical activity (moderate intensity activity for at least 5 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per day). Many programs which increase older persons' levels of physical activity have been shown to enhance their quality of life. (1) Mixing children with elders magnifies the benefits for both groups.
Super Growth of 75+ Demographic
Why is spirited intergenenerational play so vital? The growth rate of 75+ demographic is 3.5 times the total population in North America. Plus, expansion of the 75+ will be accelerating for at least 20 years. As more people mature, it helps to recognize the mid-70s in a framework of "nouveau adolescence." French photographer Sacha Goldberger has done this. Always close to his grandmother Frederika, or as he calls her: Mamika, he felt that she was becoming increasingly bored, isolated and depressed. He began a photograph series called "Super-Mamika" to cheer her up. This comical photograph series highlights playful images; often with physical activity related themes. These kinds of creative engagements revitalize an important stage when social context becomes critical for on-going health, and, like that teenage threshold, invite physical changes to the body that trigger emotional and psychological responses. It can be a time of enhanced motivation to rethink wellness and what it means to be an older adult living into what demographers are describing as "the 4th age." (2)

Cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson sees aging as an “improvisational art form calling for imagination and willingness to learn,” (3) and affirms this when talking about learning about the importance of nature from her mother and father (Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson) during childhood summers. She relates passing this knowledge on to her grandson "I caught a garter snake for Cyrus on his first birthday,” she reports, “so he could have the experience of feeling the delicate strength of its entire body and the dry texture of its scaly skin - this child will never think of snakes as slimy.”
She expands on the compositional idea of lives as artistic creation in the text Composing a Further Life (2010). Referring to a second type of adulthood where new meaning and ways to craft life patterns are expressed. Bateson concludes: “Adulthood II” can be a life stage of unprecedented vital, intergenerational health and interaction.

For example:

- Young people learn about the skills and physical capabilities of older persons, and an understanding of their diversity and individuality;

- Youngsters gain positive role models in aging adults;

- Children gain not just new knowledge but also a sense of perspective that develops as part of the aging process;

- Both old and young share the experience of learning from both mistakes and triumphs;

- Seniors make a meaningful connection with younger generations;

- Older adults can develop new child-rearing skills to use with their own grandchildren;

- Making new friends of any age with common interests lifts people out of isolation and helps to combat loneliness.

In the last century, before the age of nursing homes and day care, the inter-generational connection was a natural and necessary part of everyday life for both young children and grandparents. Well organized supervised programs in the city parks are a great way to explore and rediscover some of those joys and benefits.

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/olderadults...
(2) Statistics Provided by the National Institutes of Health--Nat. Institute on Aging, US Department of Commerce and the Bureau of the Census
(3) Bateson, M.C., Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom (2010)

Blogger's note:  Veterans Park Lawn Sport Triathlon:  More About Toequet

Many people remember playing backyard croquet and "target" frisbee when they were kids. They may've even played make-shift lawn bowling. They, quite possibly recall, losing the balls/frisbees or breaking the mallets in long grass on bumpy lawns, and still having lots of fun.

We've kept the principle of using a target to score with a frisbee or lawn bowling. Then we "plus-up" the fun of backyard croquet but toss away the mallets, and make the balls so big you can’t possibly lose them. And it’s not hard to make them go as far as you want, because they’re soccer balls, and we kick them. (This version of SuperSized Croquet is called “Toequet,” meaning you kick with your toe, no mallets needed.)  Members of the Veterans Park Lawn Bowlers club and National Croquet Center will be on hand to direct the games and prevent the balls or the players going into the Intracoastal Waterway.  The games will be played on the Lawn Bowl and around the gazebo in the front of Veterans Park.

For Event Details See:  http://events.pbpulse.com/boynton-beachdelray-beach-fl/events/show/...

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Comment by Randy Eady on February 7, 2011 at 7:04am
Sample DiscGolf Holes...
Comment by Randy Eady on February 2, 2011 at 10:03am
A recent intergenerational Toequet contest in Delray Beach, FL.

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