In the first few months of 2016 we continued our work at AG Rhodes. AG Rhodes is where Meagan spearheaded her innovative aging and arts programming. AG Rhodes is the first senior community Meagan worked with and continued to be a place of innovation for her vision. At the beginning of 2016, Ageless interAction kept up this arts program, connecting residents with the larger community through art.
Over the years, Meagan Jain, founder of intergenerational arts-based nonprofit Ageless interAction, has experimented with many different art forms, like yoga, art flows, cooking classes, and visual arts to connect strangers of all ages and transform lives. Ultimately, she found that creative visual arts are a great medium of connection, and one that fits AI’s unique and innovative mission best.
2016 was the year of establishing relationships at spots like the Bremen Home and Adult Day of Dunwoody, working with Georgia State students and work-shopping at LadyFest. Our LadyFest workshop brought together LGBTQ+ Elders and young adults through art to share the stories of LGBTQ+ Elders who paved the way for our ever-growing inclusive society. AI also worked closely with local high schools and organizations on long-term intergenerational programs.
Here are a few photos from our painters at AG Rhodes!
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Weber School, and StoryCorps Project
The Weber School, a Jewish high school, was one of those spots where Ageless interAction established a memorable presence and participated in the StoryCorps Project, which enabled AI, the Weber School, and the Toco Hills and Meyer Balser NORCs to collect recorded stories from Jewish older adults, now archived at the National Archives. For this innovative initiative, The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta partnered with AI to create a fun and accessible way for high school students from The Weber School to connect with a group of Jewish Elder adults.
By way of cooking, students and Elders were given an opportunity to connect through cooking. Food, throughout history, is a known way to bring people together whether it be through cultivation, cooking, or through sharing a meal. For this project, participants not only prepared a kosher meal together, they also sat down and ate together. Before the cooking event, Meagan sat down with the group of ten Weber students and introduced them to aging concepts. After being trained by StoryCorps, Meagan brought her knowledge from that group (as well as her expertise in gerontology) to the Jewish Federation for project planning within the community, and created a fun and interactive way to connect students with older adults via a cooking class. The Jewish Federation provided grant money for the project, which enabled the class implementation, training students at the Weber School, and the StoryCorps Project. Meagan discussed how to interact with Elder adults and trained the students for the second half of the program - interviewing for StoryCorps. Students interviewed Elders for StoryCorps. The Atlanta History Center was the homebase for the program, as it has two on-site recording studios (though the program also gave the residents options to have on-site interviews more convenient to their locations). To read more about this exciting program, check out this article from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
Adult Day of Dunwoody
Adult Day of Dunwoody (based in Atlanta, Georgia) began in 2016 with one of the missions being to connect participants with local artists, creating an intergenerational art program. In short, AI brought together people of all ages and backgrounds from the local community to paint, create, and begin friendships with the elders in the program; this resulted in monthly group painting experiences. Dubbed a ‘social club’ for older adults, elders enjoyed meeting local people and exchanging life experiences and stories while they created art.
Breman Home // Art Classes
2016 was truly a year of change, as it was also the year that Meagan Jain instituted the art program at the Bremen Home. Meagan acted as the sole instructor for five older adult women, which made this a truly unique, one-on-one art class. Meagan ensured that she allowed less guided instructions to residents who needed less input, while still engaging with those who needed a bit more aid in the creation of their artwork. This work was incredibly meaningful for the elders, as they had the freedom to choose how they could express themselves within the realm of visual art. While this may seem simplistic, even the smallest gesture - like allowing an older person a freedom they do not currently have, or one they have long forgotten - can mean the world to someone.
An incredible discovery we had while working with the elders of Bremen Home is realizing that even though the women were divided into two groups (one being self-guided, the other needing a bit more help), both made excellent efforts and advances in their work. Because of AI’s focus on the person rather than what may be perceived as physical, mental, or emotional limitations, older adults are able to thrive and obtain a new lease on life through our methodology and commitment to their growth.
Meagan Jain, founder of Ageless interAction, had the pleasure of doing a talk with Pechakucha ATL, speaking on the following: what is aging? What does it mean? And why doing intergenerational nonprofit work in the visual arts matters. Meagan discussed how AI came about, i.e., the idea was born out of her work within hospice care, and the discoveries she made therein - for example, everyone desires to connect with one another, and we are all afraid to grow older. Meagan also discusses the fears that we have not only of aging, but also of one another, and how to overcome those fears by “falling into aging in a new and novel way.” Here's the talk!
Manor on the Square
AI visited Manor on the Square twice in 2016 and did meditative Mandala drawings at one of our art classes! This was the first time many of the Elder participants had ever created their own floral mandalas and they loved it! During one of these events we had an Angus Student come participate as she was writing a class paper on the work Ageless interAction does!