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Preschool Nursing Home Brings Segregated Generations Together

Life seems to begin and end the same way—with someone looking after you, ensuring that you remain safe. The Intergenerational Learning Center in West Seattle combines caring for the very young and elderly in one place by pairing a preschool with a senior care center, affectionately called The Mount.

Five days a week, more than 400 adults living at the senior care center are coupled with preschool aged children for music lessons, art, storytelling and fun. The Intergenerational Learning Center received so much attention that it is now the subject of a film called "Present Perfect" that was shot over the course of the 2012–2013 school year by Evan Briggs, an adjunct professor at Seattle University.

As you can imagine, the presence of the tots transforms the ambience immediately. Briggs witnessed such heartwarming moments that she says it demonstrates how interconnected we all are, despite age differences.

"Moments before the kids came in, sometimes the people seemed half alive, sometimes asleep. It was a depressing scene," Briggs said. "As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive."

Briggs' documentary captures the subtle influences both generations have on each other. She hopes her film will trigger a conversation about aging in America because she believes we have become generationally segregated as a society.

Parents whose children are enrolled in the class report this model has benefits that go beyond their children being influenced by stellar teachers.

"One father told me that he especially sees it now that his own parents are aging," Briggs said.

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