Bridging the Generation Gap: College students move into retirement homes in University Circle

Posted at 8:21 AM, May 08, 2017

From the college classroom straight into retirement.

College students in Cleveland are packing up and moving into retirement homes to help bridge the generation gap.

Nina Sandberg moved into the Judson Park retirement home last August as part of the Artist-in-Residence program.

Sandberg is one of the five students involved and said it took some time to get used to but called the experience priceless. The Cleveland Institute of Musicgraduate student said the experience has created an extended family.

"I'm from Houston and I go home once or twice a year," Sandberg said. "But it's nice to have all these people around all the time. There's no shortage of good company." 

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Five students are enrolled in this year's program, which launched in 2010. It's now open to students attending CIM, Case Western Reserve Universityand the Cleveland Institute of Art.

The students are required to perform concerts at least once a month for the seniors in exchange for free housing. 

Both residents and students said they receive much more than just free music from the students. 

"All you have to do is look and listen. They bring all this beauty into our lives," Judson Park resident Don Kuhn said. "When we talk to them it's a whole other outlook on life. They're just fun to be around."

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"I certainly enjoy hearing from them about their lives so I hope the stories I tell they enjoy as well," Sandberg said. "It's fun to get a different perspective from an older generation, just how they see things." 

Over the years several residents have formed close-knit relationships with the students and said they feel more energized and positive.