The Irvington Health Coalition Launches Youth and Senior Companion Program
On the afternoon of February 6, 2017, senior citizens of Irvington Township eagerly awaited the arrival of special guests who were expected to visit the Irvington Senior Center. The seniors knew and had expressed an interest in sharing information with local youth as well as in learning from them. Though the Irvington Health Coalition had spent quite some time developing this initiative, we were unsure if the realization of the program would match the vision. In theory, the Irvington Health Coalition was created for this purpose. We intend to reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life for Irvington’s residents of all ages.
At 4:15 p.m., approximately 30 high school students, mostly members of the high school’s football team, arrived at the Irvington Senior Center. Throughout the evening, the seniors and youth exchanged stories and planned future activities. The Irvington Health Coalition members were able to see how happy, engaged and motivated the seniors became by spending time with their special guests. As a result, many have committed to the three-month long pilot program, and future program cycles, in which the youth and seniors will convene once per month to engage in conversation and share skills. We, as a Coalition, are optimistic that we will realize the intended purpose of this program by increasing the social support and engagement to improve the behavioral health of our community’s youth and seniors.