Through intergenerational play, everything old is new again


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Tony Sutton, Duncan Kim, Walter Drew and Dominick Piscitelli share the joys of intergenerational play at the Nov. 16 Recycle Brevard Festival at the Suntree-area POW Park on the Indian River Lagoon

Viera Voice Linda Wiggins

Intergenerational play of yore took place at a grandparent’s knee, but what of today’s Florida lifestyle where the majority of grandparents are separated by vast geography? 
Walter Drew is all about bringing back the benefits of playing together that help young and old as well as the community in which they live.
“I believe, like Friedrich Froebel, the father of early childhood education, that within the child ― within everyone ― there is a divine creative being, a sacred spirit that seeks to express itself in joyful ways,” Drew said at the Nov. 16  Recycle Brevard Festival at the Suntree-area POW Park along the Indian River Lagoon. He handed bits and pieces of colorful, repurposed materials to children and older adults and invited them to play together. 
“I have never lost my awe of what simple, free, open-ended play can mean for children and for the many adults I meet who benefit from getting back to play and all the rewards it brings,” said Drew, representing his nonprofit Institute for Self Active Education at the event.
Lost in the moment, he and Tony Sutton of Suntree handed marbles to area youngsters Duncan Kim and Dominick Piscitelli. The overt goal was to see which succession of split foam noodles and other objects would allow the quickest roll to the bottom. The object underneath was to connect all four of them through their inner joy.
“My grandkids are past the age of getting down on my knees to play with them, so it was really fun to bring back those days I thought would never end but passed so quickly,” Sutton said. “I don’t know who got more out of it, me or the boys.”
Drew, also the director of the popular Reusable Resources Adventure Center that is heavily used by Brevard schools classrooms, founder of the national Reusable Resources Association, and inventor of Dr. Drew’s Discovery Blocks, will bring a similar workshop to Viera Manor assisted living residents and area children this month. The early childhood development  director lives in Melbourne Beach.
There are many benefits to this type of intergenerational play for both children and younger to older adults, on cognitive, social, physical and emotional levels, according to books by intergenerational experts D. Fromberg & D. Bergen, Shannon Jarrott, L. Heracleous & C. Jacobs, S. Davis, E. Larkin & S. Graves and more, as well as the Journal of Psychology and Aging.
Older adults reconnect with the expression of feelings that combats depression, review life through integrity versus despair, express empathy by choosing to give love or perish, and imagine new roles for self. Both young and old build self esteem.
For more information or to book a play workshop, call 321-984-1018 or go to isaeplay.org. 
 

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