The intergenerational 'Legacies Project' shares stories you'll want to hear

Jun 6, 2013

When Jimmy Rhoades was 26-years-old, his father was diagnosed with cancer. Rhoades was told he would have between six months and a year left with his dad. He went home, and really got to know his father.

"I found out more about his biography in the last six months of his life than in the previous 26 years," Rhoades said.

With the loss of another family member after his father passed away, Rhoades realized the therapeutic value in having your story heard. 

That realization evolved into The Legacies Project. The project brings high school students together with seniors. The pairing allows seniors to tell their stories and gives students an enriching experience as they record their senior partner's biography.

Patricia Jenkins is a high school teacher at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor. Jenkins teaches within a magnet program at Skyline, which focuses on communications media and public policy. The three-year program trains sophomores, juniors, and seniors to become video producers and policy analysts. 

"We do videography training, and when they meet their seniors, they understand how to put equipment together, the importance of lighting, and they've had gerontology training," Jenkins said. 

With these skills, the students begin building an intergenerational relationship with their senior and produce a three to five minute segment about their partner.

"An added bonus to the project is that it reinforces what they know about U.S. history. They're learning about real history through the lives of a real person, it's very transformative," Jenkins said.

Jenkins acknowledged that having the budget to make video and lighting equipment available to Skyline students was what made the project possible. 

On Thursday June 6, there will be a screening of the students' projects at the Glacier Hills Senior Living Community at 7 pm.

For more information, and to hear some of the stories, visit legaciesproject.org.

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

To hear the audio and excerpts from students' projects, click the link above.