Scientists think the need to connect across generations may be baked into humans’ DNA — that grandparents, in particular grandmothers, played a critical role in our evolution. The reason women live so long beyond reproductive age, some anthropologists theorize, is that the care they provide for their daughters’ children frees up their daughters to produce more children sooner. “You can argue that older people connecting with younger people is something that goes back to the beginning of humanity,” says Marc Freedman, author of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting Generations.

A survey by Generations United and the Eisner Foundation — a nonprofit focused on intergenerational programs —found that 53 percent of American adults regularly spend time with few people who are much older or younger than they are, aside from family members. The figure is even higher for people ages 18 to 34, with 61 percent reporting few younger or older acquaintances. Grandparents often live hundreds of miles away from their grandchildren, and there aren’t many places to go to meet people across the age spectrum.

This is where Rotary can help.


In Vienna, Austria, Rotaractors felt ignored by Rotarians. Rather than complain, they examined their own behavior and realized they weren’t doing much to include Interactors — their clubs’ future members — in their activities. So in 2016, they launched a mentoring program between Rotaractors and Interactors that has since expanded to include mentorship between Rotarians and Rotaractors. It has also taken on a humanitarian project: building housing for Bosnian families affected by the Bosnian War.
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