Teens are always looking for new and exciting community service projects. Why not have them connect with the older generation by interviewing people at nursing homes, senior centers, or other places? They can learn communication skills while becoming closer to a generation that might not understand them as well as they'd like.

Getting started: It's great to have a group of kids who will do this together and stick it out to the end. Some of them may not feel comfortable going alone, so a group of 5-8 teens would be wonderful. This may be a new experience for them, so a quick training on what they will encounter would be beneficial. Tell them things like: 1) Don't mumble when you ask a question; 2) Listen carefully. They know when you aren't listening; 3) Don't worry about staying on track too much. A question you ask may take them off on a tangent that is very important to them.

Conducting the Interviews: Bring tools that can easily start conversations and allow you to complete a successful short-term project. For a starter project, Story Cards and Storyboards are great tools to make relationship building easier. When the teenagers don't have to worry about WHAT to ask, they can worry about HOW they ask it. They can then focus on listening to the answer and recording it. If the answer isn't recorded, it is lost or forgotten. Sometimes, asking 3-4 questions per visit is best.

Completing the Interviews: Students can make a bulletin board of resident's answers to a particular question if it's in a nursing home setting, or they could make a board of a single person's life. They could decorate it together, getting to know each other more as they do. If it is a long term project, teens could type in answers at Lifebio.com, or write answers in a Life Story Journal.

The Effects: Throughout this experience, teens will learn more about the older generation and develop relationships with them. At the same time, the older adults will be able to reminisce and become close with the younger generations. It is a win-win situation, and an enriching experience for all involved. It will transform lives, and give everyone more understanding and love. If we can help, call us at 1-866-543-3246 or e-mail us at info@lifebio.com