Intergenerational center hosts kick-off event

By Michael Jurus 

A soon-to-be named new center created by a partnership between Youngstown State University and Ohio Living invites the community to join them to kick off the start of their journey, and the start of all new experiences many students do not get to have with the older generations.

Tiffany Hughes, an associate professor at YSU with a background in aging studies and public health, is an employee of Ohio Living.

“I’ve been on their long-term care facility boards, and currently I’m also on the professional advisory committee for the home, health and hospice division that currently runs the senior center,” Hughes said. 

This center will not only provide programming and services to seniors through the senior center, but it will now offer services, intergenerationally, to bring the community together. Through the center, seniors and YSU students will get the chance to socialize and to better understand each other. 

“The senior center, until now, has been a traditional senior center that primarily focuses on programming and services for just older adults, but the purpose of our new center is to provide more intergenerational programming where the seniors can interact with YSU students,” Hughes said. 

This event is being held to announce the partnership and what it will provide to the community. Hughes said she hopes the event will get people excited about the center. Many people, such as Nicole Balog-Bickerstaff, are already excited.

Hughes invited Balog-Bickerstaff, a graduate student in health sciences, to be a part of the events’ planning committee.

“I’ve worked with her professionally for a while now, and when she asked if I wanted to be a part of the planning committee, I was very excited,” Balog-Bickerstaff said. 

Balog-Bickerstaff has also worked with Ohio Living in the past and said she enjoyed her work with the organization as well. She said this center will provide many intergenerational opportunities to YSU students, as well as the surrounding community. 

“First of all, free breakfast. I know that’s not the most important reason, but that’s always a good reason. Second of all, we’re having an expert in the intergenerational field come and talk about intergenerational learning, so that will be a very exciting presentation to hear from her,” Balog-Bickerstaff said. 

Different organizations will attend the event to give YSU students and other members of the community a chance to learn about volunteering opportunities around Youngstown and to get a chance to work with each other. 

There will be plenty of interactive activities at the event, including a raffle and chances to meet new people. The name of the new center will also be announced at the event. 

“Ohio Living had a contest, and both YSU students and community members were invited to participate to name the new senior center, and they are announcing the winner, so if you entered for the contest, I highly encourage you to come see if you won. The person who won is going to get a gift card,” Balog-Bickerstaff said. 

Not only will this center be a way for people of different generations to socialize, but according to Mona Mangiarelli, the director of the senior center, this can change the way people view other generations.

“I think that [it’s] breaking down the ageisms on both ends because, I mean, you hear some negative remarks, you know the youth talking about seniors in the community as well as the seniors talking about [the] youth in the community. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to be like, you know, well, ‘That’s not our community as a whole,’” Mangiarelli said. 

This event will be hosted from 9 a.m.-1 p.m Monday, April 18, in McKay Auditorium in Beeghly Hall. At the event, YSU and Ohio Living will host a light breakfast, announce the winner of the name contest, host a presentation by Joann Montepare and provide information tables of organizations for intergenerational learning.