SEL Awardee

Ann Neary

Staples High School
Westport Public Schools
Westport, CT
“In our increasingly ageist society, teens and seniors rarely interact, which is an emotional disservice to both. Positive, productive and supportive intergenerational work through story, helps to reframe negative conceptions of aging for both generations. A deep dive into a unique community experience,using as our inspiration Patti Digha's quote, "The shortest distance between two people is a story," will be inspiring, thought provoking and engaging. Our project seeks to connect these disenfranchised groups through writing. A writing prompt will be suggested for each session- as broad as writing about your name or as specific as a current event or local news. Ideas for prompts could also be suggested by the group. Writing can take the form of a play, poetry, memoir, creative nonfiction or fiction. All writers will have opportunities to continue to work on their pieces after the mutual writing sessions and to share. Students find risk taking with writing less frightening with elders as audience. They have a sense of emotional safety not present in their school setting. Seniors find purposeful and meaningful engagement through the collaborative sessions with teens. It aids and opens up their writing and thinking outside of these sessions. For both sets of participants, the crafting and sharing of stories in various significant places in town such as Wakeman Farm, The Historical Society, the Westport Playhouse and the town beach also fosters a sense of belonging and worth otherwise lacking in their everyday lives.”
Tags: High School, Students with Disabilities, Suburban, Teacher, Traditional Public School