Giving Back

Teens Participate in Youth Appreciation Week 'Adopt a Grandparent' Programs

Adopt a Friend at Inglemoor Rehabilitation & Care Center Credits: Danielle Santola

LIVINGSTON, NJ — As part of the 20th Anniversary Youth Appreciation Week celebration’s "Adopt a Grandparent" events, Livingston High School teen volunteers visited with the residents of Inglemoor Rehabilitation & Care Center on Monday, and will do the same on Tuesday, at Care One at Livingston Assisted Living.

“There is so much knowledge that they can share with one another,” said West Essex YMCA Associate Executive Director Cheryl Francione. “When someone who is in their 80s or 90s tells a child or a teen how life was when they were a child, it makes history come alive for our youth.” 

The “Adopt a Grandparent” initiative, which was born from the concept that intergenerational interaction is a plus both for Livingston’s youth and for Livingston’s older residents, was created through the West Essex YMCA three years ago and has since become a bi-monthly tradition that volunteers call “Adopt a Friend.” It is supervised by the Y and Healthy Community Healthy Youth (HCHY).

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According to Francione, LHS sophomore and club president Rachel Denker approached the two organizations because she remembered her grandmother residing at Inglemoor and how lonely some of the residents seemed to be when she would visit. Denker and her friends now visit Inglemoor twice a month, along with a member of the YMCA staff, where they interact with the residents, partake in themed arts and craft projects and talk about how life was “back then” compared to how it is today. 

“Our seniors are an integral part of Livingston’s population,” Francione said. “It is essential that we keep them active and engaged in our community. They are a wealth of knowledge and have so much to offer. It’s important for us all to hear what they have to say.”

Youth Appreciation Week Chairperson and former HCHY president Alan Karpas said he is extremely impressed by the number of young community members interested in volunteer opportunities. In fact, Karpas said he consistently receives emails from individual teenagers as well as volunteering clubs like Key Club, the Community Action Club and the high school’s Action Club, who are looking to get involved in bettering the community. According to Karpas, these groups actively look for volunteer opportunities and often find themselves working with organizations like the YMCA or the Livingston Advisory Committee for Disabilities (LACD).

Karpas and those involved in Youth Appreciation Week’s events encourage the community to join in the many activities yet to come. Some of the events being offered to the community’s youth include Color Wars, Stuff the Bus, Mr. Ray children’s concert, LANCETalks, a Ga-Ga tournament, Lego events, a visit by a well-known author, a bike rodeo, and a Movie Under the Stars. The Week will end with the annual Memorial Day Cole Bros. Circus and Memorial Day Parade.

“Kids are all a part of our future and I think it’s very important to reward them and honor them,” Karpas said. “That’s what Youth Appreciation Week is all about.”

Livingston’s Youth Appreciation Week, which was organized by the Healthy Community Healthy Youth Initiative of Livingston, Livingston Youth and Leisure Services, and the West Essex YMCA, will run through Memorial Day. Click HERE for a full list of events.

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