Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL) met with a group of Shepherd University students last week in a forum designed to promote improved communication and understanding between young people and seniors.
Held in Trinity Episcopal Church's Fellowship Hall, the small group of psychology students ate a brown-bag lunch with SAIL members and discussed questions they had about aging.
Jack Young, who moderated the forum Friday, talked about the very different experiences young people have now as they transition into adulthood.
Young shared an anecdote about his own family and explained that though he and his wife Martha married in their early 20s and had three kids by 26, his own kids didn't start their families until well into their 30s.
Mental alertness and memory were a recurring theme for many of the students questions, which prompted a discussion about the common societal fears associated with aging and society's perception of senior citizens.
SAIL member Lily Hill, who volunteers in the community and takes Lifelong Learning courses at Shepherd University, credited her continued exposure to the younger generations as part for her ability to combat signs of aging.
"I think being out and being with people is very important," she said.
"I think it's all about how you feel," said Sara Fries a Shepherd student.
Hill said she thinks that her commitment to volunteerism also benefits her.
"It's important to continue to serve," she said.
Hill said shed like to see more opportunities to participate in community service activities alongside students, as each group gains something from the other.
Hill called the forum a "wonderful chance to share," and said she views Shepherd University as an asset for the community as a whole.
Young said it was his idea for SAIL members to interface with university students after he learned about a course psychology students were taking in intergenerational communication.
The event Friday followed a potluck dinner SAIL held on Feb. 1, where SAIL members were first introduced to the group of students who served as event volunteers.
Young was inspired to hold the forum after hearing positive responses from SAIL members who shared time with the students at the potluck.
"They just raved about having the young people there," he said.
Young said he hopes the forum is just one event in many that allows both students and seniors to connect.
Young was encouraged by some ideas discussed at the forum, like a senior mentoring program, which he thinks could be beneficial for all involved.
"It's good to see the different community activities in Shepherdstown working together to provide benefits for the students and older people, and therefore the community," he said.