Lokon, E., Kinney, J. M., & Kunkel, S. (2012). Building Bridges across Age and Cognitive Barriers through Art: College Students’ Reflections on an Intergenerational Program with Elders who Have Dementia. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 10(4), pp. 337-354.
The positive impact of intergenerational service learning experience on college students’ academic and personal development is well documented. However, it is not clear whether students engaged in such programs with elders who have dementia gain similar benefits. Qualitative analysis of 300 journals written by 59 students participating in the Opening Minds Through Art intergenerational art program for people with dementia revealed that facilitating the creative expressions of elders with dementia resulted in many positive gains for college students. The experience enhanced their academic learning, and they felt rewarded for making a difference in the lives of others. Their attitudes toward the elders became more positive, and they were able to build genuine and reciprocal relationships with the elders. In the students’ eyes, the elders were artists, teachers, and friends. Further research is needed to analyze the impact of such an intergenerational art program from the perspective of the elders.