Spring is in the air! March madness is here, and with it, thousands of high school children and college students are off for a week of fun. While many of us remember “Where the Boys Are” and more recent “Spring Break” movies of students partying on the beach, Spring Break is increasingly becoming a time for dedicated students to spend time on issues they care about through community service. Recent studies however are showing that students can benefit more than just through gaining mandatory volunteer hours by spending their time with the seniors in their communities.
Whether it is picking up groceries or other shopping items for senior residents; teaching seniors new technology skills, or just listening to the words of wisdom from those who have experienced remarkable moments in life; students can discover history, hone their own knowledge and skills, and make new friends within the senior community.
A recent study from the University of Leon tested 179 university students and 101 elderly people. The results show “that the elderly people who interacted improved in well-being. Those interacting with the young people tended to lower their stereotyped perception of themselves, while the others tended to augment it.” The young people meanwhile, tended to “moderate their stereotypes of the elderly.” So both groups benefitted greatly from the time spent together. Both seniors and students saw the other in a different light following the time spent together, with a greater respect and appreciation felt amongst each other. The seniors felt younger and happier following the visits as well.
Spring has always been a time of renewal and rebirth, and a visit from a young student can make a person feel young and “renewed” in energy and mindset. Those spring breakers can not only receive those wonderful community hours, but also discover the blessing it is to have our older generation around.