In April 2021, we caught up with Ryan McKay from the Citadel where he shared how his young people from their Old’s Cool Intergenerational Project benefited from learning drawing and visual storytelling skills.
What is Old’s Cool?
The Old’s Cool Intergenerational Project was launched in August 2015, and it supports young people to facilitate intergenerational activities with older people in their community and to record and present their work in a medium of their choice.
Why make use of drawing?
During a pandemic, it was always going to be difficult to deliver Old’s Cool. With the added challenge of having to bring together both young and older people over Zoom, it was vital we used an approach that could engage both generations successfully. As a graduate of the secrets of simple graphics course, when our young people expressed a desire to explore a creative method of capturing their Covid19 stories with older people, I knew Emer was the ideal partner to support us.
What did you do in your sessions?
Over the course of the project, Emer delivered 3 sessions exploring drawing and visual storytelling skills, with one taking place over Zoom and two in person at the Citadel. Following this, our young people interviewed the older participants primarily over Zoom using their new drawing skills to capture their Covid19 stories.
Our first session over Zoom delivered an introduction to drawing and despite some considerable technical issues, the experience provided a fun and engaging way of connecting both generations. Zoom can often feel very artificial, and this was especially true for our older participants who were new to the platform. However, by focussing on drawing we were able to provide a familiar experience, which in turn, enabled us to focus on connecting with one another.
“Zoom can be hard at times, but it’s always amazing to see the young people.” (Mary – Older Person)
For our second session, Emer trained the young people to utilise icebreaker drawing activities and visual recording techniques. The young people then used these techniques when interviewing the older participants.
“We used the ice breaker exercises to allow our brains to start thinking more creatively, as well as it being an exercise that all generations found easy and fun!” (Macie – Young Person)
For our final session with Emer, the young people were led through an interactive final graphic workshop, to collate all the stories they had captured from the older people. These stories were categorised by theme, helping to highlight the similarities and differences in how the young and older people experienced the Covid19 pandemic. Having a final graphic also provided the young people a finished project to share.
What did you learn?
The young people ended their Old’s Cool experience by delivering a presentation sharing their learning as part of the intergenerational place making Age-Friendly-Living-Ecosystem project. This included sharing their final graphic and their top 3 tips for delivering digital intergenerational work:
- Don’t overcomplicate it – sometimes using the tried and tested can work just as well. On one session we struggled to get Zoom working so we interviewed the older person over the phone, and it was great!
- Have a backup – when thinking about this tip, our young people all agreed when you go on holiday you should always remember to pack extra underwear! This is a funny reminder to always have a backup plan, as delivering any digital work will inevitably have unexpected challenges.
- It’s not all about technology – when delivering digital intergenerational work, it can be easy to become preoccupied with technology. Remember it’s relationships that really matter and don’t forget to consider the feelings of the older people you are trying to connect with.
Anything else you would like to add?
On completing 11 sessions of Old’s Cool and over 30 hours activity our young people had this to say:
“In a nutshell, digital intergenerational work has its challenges, but it’s super rewarding and lots of fun!”