Through a range of virtual engagements, a social impact organization brings the magic of intergenerational bonds to life
A few minutes after the dance session begins, Kushboo Shahzade Khan’s students interrupt him about the audio quality. “Can you please be a little stronger?” Said a student. Another person in the group makes a similar request. Kushboo adjusts his laptop and offers to repeat the instructions. The class begins to dance.
This reporter was recently in the audience for that Zoom dance class where baby boomers learned from a Gen Z dance teacher. It was done for Silver Talkies, a social impact organization working with people aged seven. cities, including Chennai, and the promotion of intergenerational ties.
For Kushboo, this is the very first stint in senior education and the fact that it is done online makes it difficult.
âA train of thought was going through my mind before I signed up to teach seniors. I was nervous in the first class, but what I’ve learned in the last few sessions is to read a generation’s code of behavior and adjust to their state of mind and to its language when possible, âsays Kushboo, who works for Motley Dance Company.
Over 20 young people in the 18-26 age group have signed up to volunteer as âYoung Changemakers of Silver Talkies,â where they enrich the lives of older people with their skills or idea.
Between academics, Richelle Adarsh, continuing her studies in psychology and media analysis at a university in Singapore, took French lessons for members of the Silver Talkies Club. She also plans to engage with the group through a series of videos. Likewise, âVirtual Shikshaâ, an initiative of three young students, offers technology courses for seniors. In addition, there are other young volunteers like Aryamaan who have helped to conduct interviews for a research study.
Through virtual classes, workshops and sessions with young change makers, this initiative seeks to build an army of volunteers who will use their skills to bond with the silver generation.
Some of the recent sessions have included a musical evening featuring music therapist Rajam Shanker and his teenage students playing the violin and a mix of Carnatic songs; a quiz program hosted by 14-year-old Aswatha Biju, one of the youngest paleontologists; and the literary corner saw an interaction with a 10-year-old author, Kavya Kompella.
Nidhi Chawla, co-founder of Bangalore-based Silver Talkies, believes these sessions will go a long way in bridging the generation gap and making older people feel more connected. For young people, this is an opportunity to be sensitive to the needs of the older generation.
âChange maker Richelle Adarsh’s parent recently shared with us that they’ve noticed a change in their daughter. She became more empathetic and caring for the elderly: so much so that she donated the entire stipend she received for the classes she gave to a charity for the elderly. Â», Explains Nidhi. A few young change makers have also written articles for a digital magazine, ranging from âbest apps for seniorsâ to âhow to use Alexaâ. They also shared stories about their grandparents and their experiences working with the elderly, she said. âWe have had many young volunteers who have stepped up to help run errands for the elderly during the Covid lockdowns and that commitment continues,â Nidhi said.
The platform seeks to retain more young volunteers. âWhat we want them to do is volunteer two to three hours a month; the location doesn’t matter because all the courses are online, âshe says. Nidhi says technology courses in particular are in high demand, followed by language learning which stimulates cognitive abilities; writing, art and storytelling workshops. They also offer new age career ideas to pursue in a second career round. She says the majority of the events are free for people over the age of 55. The pandemic has also expanded the membership base of Silver Talkies. They currently have members from seven cities. Nidhi adds, âOur plan is to have offline meetings in each of these cities every quarter, that is, if the pandemic allows us to do so. “