Everybody wins at the Westlake Intergenerational Prom
Intergenerational relationships help strengthen individuals, and help strengthen a community. Everybody wins.
So, in 2020, when it seemed like nobody was winning ... Westlake Community Services staff created what is called the Westlake Youth Advisory Board (WYAB) to engage community youth with our mission, and to assist us with developing intergenerational opportunities within our Plus 50 programs.
Being 2020, our first nine months of meetings were held virtually with severely limited opportunities for intergenerational interaction. Nevertheless, our youth members got busy creating hundreds of Christmas stockings and Valentine bags to be delivered to unsuspecting senior residents in need of some cheer.
Once in-person meetings and activities were again possible, it was quickly evident that this group of teenagers, who seemed a bit shy on Zoom, were anything but, when we were all in-person! This talented, civic-minded, caring group, was enthusiastic and very ready to have some intergenerational fun, which is how the "Night Under the Stars" Senior Prom Dance held on June 8 came to be.
Hosting an intergenerational prom was their idea. Our staff handled the refreshments and publicity and they executed the rest. They were in charge of all the decorations and photo booth. They worked the welcome table, served the food and took pictures. The best part, though, was that they all joined different tables for dinner conversation and dancing. They mixed and mingled.
Like Zoom, the dancing part started with a bit of hesitancy. Once that bubble burst, there was no stopping the younger and older generations who spontaneously taught each other line dances and other moves. Even those in attendance who identified as "retired from dancing" were still able to enjoy all the interaction.
The Debbie Darling Quartet, generously sponsored by the Westlake/Bay Village Rotary Club, provided our live entertainment. They took us on a toe-tapping journey of dance music from the 1940s to the '70s. The evening ended with more sponteneity. The entire room made a giant circle, held hands and sang "God Bless America," raising our arms up in victory at the end! It was an amazing, unplanned moment of unity.
Thank you Westlake Youth Advisory Board for throwing a successful first Senior Prom. Everyone in attendance agreed that this needs to be an annual event. Everybody won.
Visit facebook.com/WestlakeCommunityServices for additional pictures of this event. To find out about future events, check out our Pathways newsletter on www.cityofwestlake.org under the Community Services tab.
I am the Director of the Community Services Department for the City of Westlake. I am also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.