Youth are always seeking community service projects--so why not take the opportunity to have them connect to interview an older adults at a nursing home, senior living, assisted living community, church, senior center, or other setting.

It's great to have a core group of kids in a service learning project who are going to do this project together so they can support each other. I'd recommend 5-8 teens and it would be great if it is a mix of male and female. As youth volunteers, they will appreciate a brief training on what they may encounter and tips for talking with seniors such as... 1) Don't mumble when you ask a question; 2) Listen carefully -- they know when you are not listening; 3) Don't worry about staying on track too much. A question you ask may take you off to a very interesting tangent that is important to their elder partner. 

Tools that help them easily start conversations and complete a simple project are recommended. After all, youth volunteers are busy with so many things and this may need to be a short-term project to be successful. If there is flexibility built in, that's great. So he or she can start out participating in a 1-day experience and then it can expand as the teenager wishes. For a starter project, Story Cards and Storyboards are great tools to make relationship building easy and Volunteer Training can be provided to get your group started. If the teenagers don't have to worry so much about WHAT to ask, they can concentrate more on HOW they ask it and focus on listening to the answer and recording it. If it isn't recorded, it will be lost or forgotten. They may just ask 3-4 questions during a visit or there may be time for more. Sometimes youth can make a bulletin board out of people's answers to a particular question in a nursing home setting. Sometimes the youth want to keep coming back in a 6-8 week project (one middle school teacher makes it an 8-week after school project). If it is a longer term project, the youth can be asking questions at and typing in their partner's answers.....or they can be writing answers into a Life Story Journal. The beauty of the online system is that the students can actually print out a copy of the person's life story easily when the project ends.

The older adults are volunteering to share their stories. The youth are volunteering to help record the stories. This is definitely a win-win experience that will TRANSFORM lives. It can work in a senior center, a library, a church, a care facility, senior living, or anywhere that youth and adults could benefit from more conversation and understanding and love. Call if we can help. 1-866-543-3246, Packages are available for groups.