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Lake Shore Family Center awarded 2020 Visionary Award for Education

One of the seniors at the Lake Shore Family Center enjoys gardening time with one of the children. Submitted Photo.

IRVING — Lake Shore Family Center has been awarded the “National Program of Distinction” designation by Generations United. The Program of Distinction designation was launched in 2010 to recognize excellence, while celebrating the rich diversity among intergenerational programs.

The application and review process for this award are rigorous, and serve as the U.S. benchmark for intergenerational programs that use evidence-based standards for high-quality programming. This process included an almost 60-page long application.

Lake Shore Family Center is one of only six programs chosen nationally this year. This recognition says a program employs best practices and effectively engages young and old while serving the surrounding community.

Lake Shore Family Center (LSFC) is an innovative and unique program located in Irving. It has been the unique mission of LSFC to provide the highest-quality of care to the children, families, and aging adults. LSFC has been in operation for 30 years now, opening in 1990. At that time, the business was just for children.

In 1993 however, the Office for the Aging contacted the center and asked if they would be able to accommodate elderly individuals. After much research from Virginia Miller, Director at LSFC and colleagues, they were able to come up with coinciding curriculums for both the children and the seniors, allowing the business to open up to both the young and elderly.

Lake Shore Family Center

The intergenerational component of the facility is highly unique in that it provides services for the very young and aging members of the community under the same roof. The program offers daycare for children (ages 6 weeks to 12 years), before and after school care, Early Head Start, Universal Pre-K, and social-model adult daycare. The children and adult seniors enjoy the unique and mutually beneficial experience of daily interaction, unconditional friendship, and the avoidance of the development of age-related biases.

“It’s an avoidance of negative stereotypes. So those stereotypes don’t get built up, ever because they’re seeing people in wheelchairs and people with developmental disabilities,” said Miller. “The same goes for the seniors as well because they may have generalizations about the younger generations and they see that ‘this is what it really is’.”

The award given to the LSFC provides solid evidence as to why intergenerational experiences are worth so much to both the children and “grandparents” that attend the center. Those connections between the generations are priceless, as conveyed in a story told by Miller; one senior that came to the center ended up having a blast with the kids after they had been down in spirits. Miller said that they could not get the person to stop talking, when in turn, their paperwork finally came in a couple weeks later labeled as “non-verbal.” The connection with the children inspired that senior to start talking again, “It was the feeling of unconditional friendship,” said Miller.

“One of the other benefits of this type of setting is called the ‘sandwich’ generation,” explained Miller. “There is a pretty large pocket of adults in the workforce that are caring for both their children and a grandparent. … We’re perfect for those needs.”

Lake Shore Family Center has proudly served the community for many years as the voice of advocacy and highest quality of care for children, families, and senior adults. Some of the employees at the center grew up going to LSFC and were inspired to come back to work there when they were older.

Because of their work, Lake Shore Family Center has been awarded the OBSERVER’s 2020 Visionary Award for Education.

Lake Shore Family Center is located at 845 Main Road, Irving.

For further information regarding Lake Shore Family Center and/or intergenerational programming please contact Virginia Miller at (716) 934-2353 or visit https://www.lakeshorefamilycenter.org.

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