“Reach out, touch a hand – make a friend if you can.” – The Staple Singers
Last Thursday, when it seemed that all the news on the radio was about the next horror produced by human misunderstanding, I found a few hours of love and appreciation by dancing with elders and children.
We had two intergenerational Dancing Heart™ sessions that day – the morning with elders with memory loss at Episcopal Homes – along with little ones from the preschool joining in, full of the kinetic energy of 3 and 4 year olds running and laughing with joyful abandon. The afternoon session was at the Wilder Community Center for Aging, with a group of children and youth from 5-12 years joining us. We taught them the songs “Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” and “Everyday People” and sang together as we reached out and danced with each other.
We invited the elders and children to share their ideas about how to make new friends. We also asked how to be kind to new friends as well as old friends; the children wanted to share ways that they could be kind to people they didn’t know. The elders, a wonderfully diverse mix of cultures and abilities, talked about how they had become good friends with each other at the Center, even though they hadn’t grown up together. They had learned to care about others that looked different from them. The thoughtful suggestions from both the older adults and children moved me to tears.
Here are their suggestions:
Talk to someone
Help someone out
Accept people for who they are
— Maria Genné, Founder and Director of Kairos Alive!