Over The Lawn, Through The Wicket

Setting up the event required careful consideration of each sport’s space, time and physical-exertion requirements. Lawn bowling was already an onsite fixture, so an orientation on Disc Golf by instructors from the National Croquet Center and players from the local college helped to round out the organizers’ experience. A layout was devised to accommodate all three activities in fewer than four acres of the park. A cap of 112 participants was established.

One interesting requirement — each team (of four) needed to have 50-plus years difference between the oldest and youngest teammates.

Teams were then divided among the three activities:

• Four teams at each of the four Disc Golf holes

• Eight teams at the four lawn bowls

• Four teams on the super-sized croquet field

After the first round, a “cut” was made, and the remaining teams moved on to the second round. The top two teams eventually went head-to-head in a championship round.

Then the remaining two teams in each sport were considered for the Individual Lawn Sport awards in:

• Best Lawn Bowler

• Best SS Croquet

• Best Disc Golf.

Benefits For All

Planning and developing intergenerational programs is a process that considers the needs and emotions of all participants. For example, the physical limitations of older adults need to be understood, while the emotional boundaries of children should be considered (too many adults entering and exiting a child’s life may confuse him or her and cause trust issues).

Research indicates that an older person’s engagement in physical activity can extend years of active, independent life, reduce morbidity and mortality, and lower healthcare costs. However, less than one-third of Americans age 65 and older meet the recommended level of physical activity (moderate-intensity activity at least 5 days per week, and at least 30 minutes per day).

Many programs that increase an older person’s level of physical activity have been shown to enhance the quality of life. (1) Mixing children with elders magnifies the benefits for both groups.

Super Growth Of The 75-Plus Demographic

Why is spirited intergenerational play so vital? The growth rate of the 75-plus demographic is 3.5 times the total population rate in North America. Plus, expansion of the 75-plus age group will be accelerating for at least 20 years. As more people mature, it helps to recognize the mid-70s in a framework of “nouveau adolescence.” (2)

Cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson sees aging as an “improvisational art form calling for imagination and willingness to learn,” (3) and expands on the compositional idea of lives as artistic creation in Composing a Further Life (2010). She refers to a second type of adulthood, in which new meaning and ways to craft life patterns are expressed, and she concludes that “Adulthood II” can be a life stage of unprecedented, vital, intergenerational health and interaction.

For example:

• Young people learn about the skills and physical capabilities of older persons, as well as gain an understanding of their diversity and individuality.

• Youngsters gain positive role models in aging adults.

• Children gain not only new knowledge but also a sense of perspective that develops as part of the aging process.

• Both old and young share the experience of learning from both mistakes and triumphs.

• Seniors make a meaningful connection with younger generations.

• Older adults can develop new child-rearing skills to use with their own grandchildren.

• Making new friends of any age with common interests lifts people out of isolation, and helps to combat loneliness.

In the last century, before the age of nursing homes and day-care, the inter-generational connection was a natural and necessary part of everyday life for both young children and grandparents. Well-organized, supervised programs in city parks are a great way to explore and rediscover some of those joys and benefits.

Works Cited:

(1)http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/olderadults.html

(2) Statistics Provided by the National Institutes of Health–Nat. Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of

Commerce and the Bureau of the Census

(3) Bateson, M.C., Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. 2010.

Randy Eady is an intergenerational rehabilitation specialist and instructor at Veteran’s Park.

Samantha Roland is the site supervisor for the park. For more information, visit www.mydelraybeach.com.

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More About Super-Sized Croquet (Or Toe-quet)

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