CITRA’s Building a Community Legacy Together (BCLT) Program is an intergenerational program for youth and older adults. The BCLT Program involves having youth interview elders about their general advice for living. Older adults are an underutilized resource in communities who have a wealth of knowledge to share, and youth, in particular, can benefit from their life lessons. The BCLT model is based on decades of experience developing intergenerational programs at Cornell University, including on elder wisdom and advice-giving by elders to young people. In particular, the BCLT Program stems from the work of CITRA’s Legacy Project.
Goals & Objectives of the Program
The primary goal of the BCLT Program is to create meaningful interactions between youth and older adults, allowing youth to learn from older adults and older adults to share their wisdom with younger generations. BCLT promotes respect for older adults and the wisdom of age, and it seeks to combat ageism, including youths’ attitudes towards elders and elders’ attitudes towards youth.
Structure of the Program
The BCLT Program includes an eight-hour training for youth, broken up into four two-hour sessions before and after the interviews with elders. Meanwhile, the elders are given a one-hour training before the interviews. After the interviews, the youth review and organize their lessons learned. As a group, the youth then give a community presentation on the advice they learned from all the elders.
Benefits of the Program
In addition to gaining wisdom from elders, the BCLT Program helps youth develop specific skill sets that will be useful to them in the future (e.g., interviewing and research techniques). For older adults, the program allows them to make meaningful connections and pass on their knowledge to younger generations. This may, in turn, decrease their sense of social isolation and increase their self-esteem and sense of purpose.
Planning & Implementing the Program
CITRA has created a manual for facilitators to conduct the BCLT Program in their own communities. The manual provides an overview of the goals and activities of the BCLT Program and describes all the exercises in detail. It also includes handouts and other resources and materials designed to help with the delivery of the program. Sponsoring organizations should have experience in conducting community-based educational programs, including participant recruitment. We have learned that the program works best when sponsored by two collaborating organizations, ideally one organization that serves youth and one that serves older adults.