They’re in their 20s and 30s, and they’re interested in bridging the generation gap. Founded this past winter, Generation Appreciation Philadelphia, also known by its acronym, GAP, encourages the city’s young professionals to connect with older adults in their personal and professional lives. At the same time, says the group’s founder, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) Planner Kate Clark, group members come together to network and explore ways in which they can support each other professionally.

Over the course of a few months, the group has decided on a name and mission, hosted its first events, and created a Facebook page and a listserv. As the word gets out, the number of GAP members is growing.

The organization’s steering committee comprises those within and outside of the aging network, including young professionals from the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Enterprise CDC, PCA, Benefits Data Trust, Center in the Park, the West Oak Lane Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) initiative and the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

GAP’s first event brought young professionals to the artists’ reception at Rembrandt’s restaurant in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood during PCA’s “Seniors Celebrate the Arts” festivities in May. GAP steering committee members joined older artists and their families and friends to enjoy the exhibit of outstanding senior artwork and listen to musical performances by senior musicians.

For its second event, held at the United Way in June, GAP sponsored a brown-bag lunch discussion on “Social Capital: What It Is and Why It Matters for Creating an Age-Friendly Philadelphia.” Allen Glicksman, Ph.D., director of Research and Evaluation at PCA, and an expert on the topic, led the group discussion.

Research shows that social capital, (connection to the community) can have a profound effect on health and well-being, according to Glicksman.  GAP sees social capital as central to its mission, Clark said, adding that, “We intend to incorporate this concept in our goals and activities so that members can help foster a community for all ages. Getting young professionals to reach out to their older neighbors will be a huge priority.”

Individuals interested in community-building by promoting intergenerational interaction can join GAP’s listserv and Facebook Group (under Generation Appreciation Philadelphia). For more information, contact Kate Clark at kclark@pcaphl.org or 215-765-9000, ext. 5072.

Source: Update published by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Summer 2009 Issue

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