The Irvington Health Coalition Develops Initiative to Decrease Generational Gap between Youth and Seniors

The Irvington Health Coalition announced the launch of its Youth and Senior Companion Program on February 6, 2017. The Youth and Senior Companion Program is a unique initiative geared towards increasing the social support and engagement among youth and seniors by facilitating interactions between these groups. Additional anticipated benefits of this program include the reduction of the generational gap and promotion of cohesion through the exchange of skills between the groups. With the assistance of Young Men Striving for Greatness, a local mentoring organization and member of the Irvington Health Coalition, approximately 30 students from Irvington High School and other local academic institutions were randomly paired with approximately 30 seniors who are members of the Irvington Senior Citizens Center. All participants were eager to interact with one another and have already started planning future outings and activities. “The Irvington Health Coalition is one of the tools developed by my administration to enhance the well-being of the residents of the township,” said Irvington’s Mayor Tony Vauss. “By connecting our seniors with the youth of the community, we are improving the emotional health of our seniors through social interaction, and at the same time, increasing the understanding and empathy of the youth for our elders. These experiences and relationships will have an everlasting positive affect on the participants and our community.”

In 2015, the Irvington Health Department, local organizations and community stakeholders determined that a more effective approach to improving the quality of life for residents involved the formation of the Irvington Health Coalition. The Coalition is a community coalition that has allowed members who were once working independently to partner, share resources and work towards the common goal of improving health outcomes. Over the past year, members of the Irvington Health Coalition have worked diligently to develop initiatives that aim to create sustainable change in areas associated with health-related behaviors, the physical environment and access to health-related information. “Research has shown that low levels of perceived social support and engagement are associated with unhealthy weight control behaviors and poor behavioral health outcomes”, stated Dr. Monique S. Griffith, Director of the Irvington Department of Health. She continued, “The Coalition’s Youth and Senior Companion Program is the first of its kind within the Township and we are optimistic that it will lead to improvements in these areas for both groups”.

For more information about the Irvington Health Coalition, please contact Dr. Monique S. Griffith, Director of the Irvington Department of Health: (973) 416-7760 or mgriffith@irvingtonnj.org. Support for the Irvington Health Coalition was provided by a grant from New Jersey Health Initiatives, the statewide grant making program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation