Nicole Dawson, PT, PhD, GCS; Jennifer Tucker, PT, DPT, PCS
Intergenerational (IG) programs are social vehicles that offer both younger and older generations the opportunity to interact and become engaged in the community. Aside from acting as an innovative social outlet, IG programs can present a new way to approach one of the most pressing issues our society currently faces: a lack of adherence to physical activity recommendations. Previous IG programs have succeeded in improving social interaction, mental health, and well-being in children and older adults; however, no research to this date has included physical activity.
PURPOSE: We investigated the impact of an intergenerational play-based physical activity (PA) program on children’s perceptions of aging, attitudes of children and older adults towards physical activity, as well as their attitudes toward each other.
METHODS: A quasi-experimental applied intervention study. Fourteen participants. Children (n=7) aged 6 to 12 and older adults (n=7) aged 65+, able to ambulate community distances (>250 feet) without physical assistance, and without significant cognitive deficits. One child did not complete follow-up data analysis. Participants attended up to 16 90-minute sessions over the course of 8 weeks. Each consisted of 5 stations with classic outdoor games that facilitate intergenerational interaction, movement, and play. Attitudes toward PA were assessed using the Children’s Attitudes Toward PA (CATPA) inventory and the Older Person’s Attitudes Toward PA and Exercise (OPAPAEQ) questionnaire, while youth participants’ opinion of the aging process was assessed using the Children’s Perception of Aging and Elderly (CPAE) inventory. Our other primary outcome consisted of semantic differential ratings of older adults in general, children in general, and ratings of self. The four square step test (FSST) was performed to assess falls risk in older adults pre- and post-intervention.
RESULTS: Children had statistically significant differences in CPAE (p=0.005) as well as increased frequency of contact with older adults outside of the Grow & Play program in the follow up assessment (p=0.004). Significant improvements were found in the FSST (p=0.04). Older adults had improved attitudes toward PA (p=0.1).
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that PA presented in the context of intergenerational interaction and play may improve children’s perception of aging, as well as older adult’s lower extremity strength and falls risk.
Osier, Cami; Steckel, Kaitlyn; and Viola, Sabrina, "Grow and Play: An Intergenerational Physical Activity Program" (2019). UCF DPT Research Capstone. 22.