Could not authenticate you.followers
High school students and older adults are coming together for meaningful interactions through Sages and Seekers, an innovative program bridging the generation gap to improve lives and combat social isolation.
Sages and Seekers is a nonprofit started in Boston in 2010 by founder and executive director Elly Katz, who sought to create a forum where students could learn from seniors with a lifetime of experience, and older adults, in turn, could learn about youth. The program started with six sages (older adults) and six seekers (students) and became very popular, Katz said. When she moved to Los Angeles in 2013, Katz brought the program with her, and it was adopted into a research study conducted by USC. The program now offers online and in-person interactions between the sages and seekers, and has been included in the curriculum at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades, and Larchmont Charter School in Lafayette Park. Katz’s goal is to expand it to schools throughout the city.
“It’s absolutely magical when you bring those two generations together, because they have much more in common than you think,” Katz said. “They’re trying to find meaning in their lives, both of them, students as teens becoming adults and older adults as they retire and move away from the life that they used to have. It just worked, and it was so much fun to see the transformation in the students and the older adults.”
Katz said the program has grown to include 674 sages and seekers, in the in-person and online programming. The seekers are 15-20 years old, and the sages are 60 or older. Katz said the program offers training for students and school administrators so they can hold the program in their schools. She works with senior centers to interest older adults in participating in the program. While sometimes seniors are reluctant, they quickly change their minds when they get started and meet young people.
“I show a 15-minute video so that they [aren’t] afraid, so they see the impact and they see that it is fun and people are enjoying themselves. Because we use that, it really helps people to understand, ‘oh yeah, I can do it,’” Katz said.
Anne Keenes, a sage who joined the program last year, said it has been wonderful.
“It has been a great learning experience for me, learning what their lives are about and what they want for their futures,” said Keenes, who lives off Olympic Boulevard near La Cienega Park. “I had done a lot of volunteer work in retirement with young people, but I didn’t have a child myself, and I always thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of young people. It was very well organized.”
The program is eight weeks, and the sages and seekers meet once a week for 75 minutes. They get to know each other as a group, and then each sage is paired with a seeker for one-on-one dialogue and interaction. Sessions begin with a group discussion, and then the sages and seekers break out as pairs. At the end of the program, the seekers write a synopsis of their experiences and give a presentation. Cira Mejia, an 11th grader at Larchmont Charter school, said the program has helped her gain self-confidence and improve her public speaking abilities. She enjoys spending time with the sages and has developed lasting friendships.
“I heard about the Sages and Seekers program in 2020-2021 and have been doing it ever since. It’s become something I do every Wednesday and it’s been great,” Mejia said. “I like the connectivity. I have met so many people who have imparted their wisdom to me. A lot of the sages I keep in contact with. Some of the best advice they have ever given me is to pursue the things that make me happy.”
Katz said the next in-person Sages and Seekers program will be held this fall.
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit sagesandseekers.org.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Leave a Reply