Here's a Bright Idea: Intergenerational Activities Link Young and Old, Both Benefit

CLEVELAND, Ohio — (NYSE: GE)  How many seniors does it take to change a light bulb? It only takes one but it can be a lot more rewarding if it takes two: a senior and a youth, a grandparent and a grandchild, an acorn and an oak. 

Intergenerational activities increase cooperation, interaction and exchange between people of different generations, according to Generations United-an organization that began in 1986 and is the country's only membership organization promoting intergenerational public policies, strategies and programs

According to the EPA, these activities can prevent unnatural age segregation and apply the strengths of one generation to meet the needs of another. For youth and children, these activities can enhance social skills, improve academic performance, decrease drug use and increase stability. For older adults, these activities can enhance socialization, stimulate learning, increase emotional support and improve health. (

There are many ways that children or youth and older adults can work together. They might enjoy reading to one another, baking together, going fishing, playing card games or sharing music. It can be as simple as a game of Crazy Eights, building a simple bird house or getting a car ready for a Cub Scout pinewood derby.

When the two generations team up to help the environment, it's a win for everyone. Young and old can gain a greater sense not only about how the environment is relevant and of vital importance to their well-being, but also how it contributes to the well-being of their family, community and world.

Among the many environmental projects that young and old could enjoy together include
  • recycling newspapers, cans and glass,
  • planting flowers, shrubs or trees,
  • purchasing or making a reusable cloth bag to hold purchases when shopping, or
  • changing out incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
The experts at GE lighting suggest that changing to CFLs is not only an intergenerational activity that is fun and easy, but also one that will save energy and money.

  • First take inventory in the home and choose the five most often used light bulbs.
  • As with all activities involving electrical outlets, the adult should supervise the child and ensure that the bulbs are installed safely.
  • Make sure lamps/fixtures have been turned off and are cool.
  • Remove the bulbs. If you have been happy with the light output, take note of the specific wattage of the incandescent bulb.
  • Note what type of fixture in which the bulb is used e.g. track light, ceiling fan, chandelier, vanity strip, enclosed fixture, pendant or table lamp.
  • Take a trip to the hardware or discount store light bulb aisle. Read the package and match the bulb type e.g. standard, decorative, globe or reflector.
  • Check the CFL package for information that will tell you the equivalent light output or wattage.
  • Purchase what you need; take them home and screw them in!
ENERGY STAR®-qualified GE Energy Smart® bulbs save consumers money on energy costs. They last up to ten times longer than a standard incandescent and now come in soft white and daylight color temperature options. They are sized to fit most common household sockets and fixtures. There are even CFL bulbs available that are dimmable or 3-way products. GE recently introduced a new covered CFL that features a GE Spiral® CFL inside the glass bulb. With this new CFL, the electronics fit in the neck of the bulb. The result is a profile that's almost identical to a standard incandescent light bulb so you can easily use it with clip-on lampshades or smaller table lamps.