THE INTERGENERATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD: A FRESH APPROACH TO INCLUSION
Valerie Sperling Martinick
Ten years of planning and research by University of Illinois sociology professor, Brenda Eheart, resulted in the creation of the Generations of Hope organization and subsequently the diverse community called Hope Meadows. In this setting, families get the support and information they need, and they and their formerly "in-care" adopted children are nurtured emotionally, intellectually, and financially. The author examines the potential of creating a viable Canadian Intergenerational Neighbourhood based on that model.
The model is innovative and functional in a number of ways. The difficulty of placing "high risk" children in the community is addressed by providing adoptive parents with homes in a safe and affordable environment, supported by qualified and professional help and backup guardianship. The internal and external costs and benefits are not mutually exclusive; costs in one area are offset by benefits in another. Surrogate grandparents continue purposeful and meaningful lives and are not perceived as being in competition with children for scarce resources.
This model is socially responsible, economically sound, and environmentally friendly. However, it also poses considerable challenges. Implied is the need for a paradigm shift in the conceptualization, approach and delivery of public policy, specifically in the areas of housing, care, and service as they pertain to children and seniors. How can an integrated approach to addressing these issues best be accomplished?
This forum hopes to bring together those parties interested in making The Intergenerational Neighbourhood a reality. The author will open with a brief description of the model, including projected specific and measurable costs and benefits as well as tangible and intangible goals and objectives. Her purpose for the session is to garner direction and support for a Canadian pilot project.
The original working paper was written in collaboration with Roy Chartier and Stu Jackes. It has been modified and adapted for this presentation by Valerie Sperling Martinick.
Valerie Sperling Martinick, BGS (integrated studies in business and liberal arts), is a front line service provider for youth labeled "at risk" in an alternative high school environment in the lower mainland of Vancouver, BC. During the past nine years she has developed and implemented youth programs and integrated services within this school district.
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