Intergenerational Index
The Grandfriends Project -- A Program Creating Friendships Across the Generations Martin Kimeldorf, the author

Introduction to School Staff

This material offers the school staff an overview of the program. It might be helpful to also share this material with staff you will be working with from the community.

The materials in The Granfriends Project were designed to bridge between the young and old. A new relationship between the elder and younger generations is sorely needed today and will become essential in the next century. The stories, experiential exercises, and writing assignments in this program will sensitize young adults to the dreams and challenges faced by older people living in care facilities.

Becoming more empathic towards older people pays many dividends in the student's personal and professional life. They will find value and friendship in serving others, develop better communication skills, and acquire vocationally relevant people skills. As a result, students will be able to market themselves more effectively to senior communities which employ all kinds of workers today (cooks, groundskeeping staff, nurses assistants, recreation aides, clerical and social workers, counselors, financial planners, cosmetologists, etc.). In addition to career outcomes, The Grandfriend Project can also reinforce various academic skills related to report writing, research (including using the Internet and CD-ROM), and critical thinking. Finally, the community piece supplies the essential learning-through-service work component.


I began taking my students to visit nursing homes and retirement communities in 1990. This was part of a special class in career and community awareness. Every other week my students left the campus to visit nursing homes and retirement communities. They heard speakers from Retired Seniors Volunteers Program (RSVP) and various social agencies working under the banner of "Aging and Adult Services." Discussions about the aging process and the stereotypes generating discussion and understanding of ageism. Students also received hands-on training at the nursing home related to the use of wheelchairs and proper hygiene practices. The service-learning format of this program turned out to be the perfect training vehicle for both academic and vocational skills. The student workbook now contains all of the experiences, ideas, and lessons which evolved with our very first class.

Did I mention that I began with special needs students?

These students experienced an added benefit. It proved to be an intoxicating experience when my kids moved from a position of being "needy" to the honored status of feeling "needed." This transformation is captured in many of my student's reports (one of which is included in the student workbook).

Today, after having started several more Grandfriends Projects I am very certain that these type of programs are critical to sustaining a caring society. It is gratifying to learn that the materials are being used with such a wide array of people. I have reports about the Grandfriend curriculum being used in colleges, and training programs for geriatric majors as well as those involved in therapeutic recreation.

The student workbook and this Project Leader's Guide represent the culmination of several experiments. The lessons have been codified and set in a general sequence which you can use and adapt to suit your needs. This is not your typical program where people visit during the holidays to decorate the dining hall and sing carols. Through repeated contact, instruction, and reflection, students and staff develop a deeper understanding of how we age, how we serve, and the common ground which connects us all.

Using This Guidebook and Student Workbook

Between the student workbook and this Project Leader's Guide you have all the pieces you need to make the puzzle work: checklists for planning your program, forms for community experiences, curriculum lessons related to aging awareness, suggested activities, journal assignments, and an outline for those who would ask students to produce a final report summing up their experiences. Open the treasure chest and explore the contents, knowing that you may use the contents differently each time.  


You may be starting with a small class of 15 to 20 students and volunteer drivers (from the community or the nursing home). Because you are new to this project, you'll want to start small and make it as easy as possible the first time out. I recommend setting a program in four stages. In this model you will only use parts of the student workbook as you go through your apprenticeship.

In the first stage you jointly plan the program with a local care agency or nursing home staff member. (If you're lucky a school-community coordinator will assist with this phase). In the second stage, you'll integrate the first four chapters of the book with two visits to a nursing home (or wherever your grandfriends are located). The first four chapters include all the training needed and then you can begin regular bi-weekly visits in the third stage. You may wish to ask students to complete journals or use the journal topics as group discussion questions during this stage. Finally, in the fourth stage you can use the Memory Book discussed in chapter five as a pivot experience for your culminating event. Perhaps it will be a shared meal in a local restaurant where your students present the Memory Books to their Grandfriends. A summary for the four stages follows:

Typical Start Up Sequence For The Four Stage Mini-Program


Weeks 1 to 4: Plan, recruit, send home letters.


Lesson #1 Basic Training and Student Orientation
…Go over Chapter 1; Journal #1 assigned.
Visit #2 Make first visit; tour the facility or site where you'll work with Grandfriends
…Journal #2 assigned.
Lesson #3 Aging Simulation
…Go over Chapter 2; Journal #3 assigned.
Visit #4 Make second visit and go through volunteer orientation at the site
…Journal #4 assigned.
Lesson #5 Introduce rules, regulations, policies
…Go over Chapter 3; Journal #5 assigned.
Lesson #6 Practice communication skills
…Go over Chapter 4; Journal #6 assigned.


The number of bi-monthly visits you make can be expanded if you desire
Visit #7 Play Bingo or other group game as a "warm-up"
…Journal #7 assigned.
Visit #8 Visit and conduct personal interview of older Grandfriend.


Lesson #9 Students construct Memory Books as described in Chapter 5.

Visit #10 Students invite Grandfriends to their school, give a tour, present Memory Books.

You may want to add to your list of activities some of the ideas found in Chapter 6. Others may ask their students to do research and write a report project as described in the last chapter of the student workbook.

When you repeat the project next year, you can then easily expand and include material from the other chapters. It will be easy to expand because the base planning has been established during the first year.  


The workbook is designed for maximum flexibility. You obviously need not complete the entire workbook the first time. Because the main themes are repeated in different motifs, you can do the chapters in any order you wish.

Likewise, the instruction can be delivered in different formats. Students can be asked to read and complete the worksheets in each chapter. You may enjoy reading a chapter's stories and background material out loud and discuss the ideas as you go. Then students could work in cooperative groups (or individually) on completing the chapter assignments. (In special education classes we often do the assignment together.) If you don't have a double block period of 100 or more minutes you might have to spread the lessons out across two class sessions.

This program can be easily adapted to a variety of learners, schedules, and transportation needs. The guide which follows discusses all the planning and logistics pertinent to the program overall and the lessons in particular.

Intergenerational Index   next page arrow

Martin Kimeldorf,
© 1999
All Rights Reserved.
Amby Duncan-Carr,
page designer
Material from both THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations and the companion piece, PROJECT LEADER'S GUIDE FOR THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher, Fairview Press. Printing or downloading a single copy of this document for personal use is permitted; teachers may reproduce this document for use in a single classroom, only. Transmission in any form or further duplication is prohibited without the express written consent of the author. In addition, any use of the document code, itself, requires the written permission of the web page designer.

Kimeldorf Bibliography
Amby's Resources
Kimeldorf Autobiography

© 1999   Amby Duncan-Carr   All Rights Reserved.

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