Sages and Seekers Intergenerational Program Goes Virtual at Big Walnut High School
Connections Volunteer Center delivered its first-ever virtual edition of Sages and Seekers at Big Walnut High School (BWHS) this fall. Due to COVID, the coordinators quickly realized the need to pivot and find an innovative way to deliver the highly sought after program.
The program first debuted in 2019 through a community grant from the Delaware County Commissioners at Delaware City Schools’ Willis Innovative Learning Lab program followed by a second session at Hayes High School in their Current Events class.
Sages & Seekers is a free 8-week intergenerational program designed to bring together teens (Seekers) and adults aged 55 or older (Sages) to share their unique gifts and life experiences. Each week, the pairs are guided through a conversational journey which is designed to:
- Foster empathy
- Break through generational barriers to diminish ageism
- Cultivate listening, interviewing and communication skills
The exchange of the Sages wisdom and Seekers vitality, culminates in a special tribute in which the Seeker honors the Sage.
Admittedly, the first period Sociology class at BWHS wasn’t sure of what to expect and many students voiced their concerns early on. “The initial reaction of the students was, it’s 7:40 in the morning and you want us on a Zoom call talking to “old people” we don’t know,” recalled Mel Ecklebarger, Sociology teacher at Big Walnut High School.
“That (sentiment) changed really fast,” said Ecklebarger. “As they went through the program and got to know their Sage each and every week, it was an amazing experience to witness the bonding.” Ecklebarger was touched that many of the students were moved to tears and wanted to keep in touch with their Sage It was beyond her expectation and she’s looking forward to the next cycle.
View the November 19th Big Walnut Local Schools Board Meeting where Mr. Andy Jados and Ms. Mel Ecklebarger provide a Sages and Seekers post-program report to Board members. Note: The presentation starts at the 23:58 minute mark in the meeting.