DIT hosts TOY Seminar to promote intergenerational learning

“Together Old and Young” Building age-friendly communities with TOY                                              

15 May, 2014: DIT today hosted a public seminar on intergenerational learning.  Organised by DIT’s Department of Social Sciences, the focus of the seminar was to present the work of the TOY project. The TOY project is all about bringing together young children (0-8 years) with older people (aged 55+) so that they can learn together and from each other.  This EU funded research project on intergenerational learning is being implemented by nine partner organisations in seven countries. In addition to DIT, the multi-disciplinary project team includes education and training institutions, NGOs and local authorities in various parts of Europe. Together the team has been researching the possibilities for learning and development when young children (0-8 year-olds) and older people (55 +) come together in settings such as children’s centres, day and residential settings for older people, libraries, and community centres.


The seminar attracted participants from both the early years and the older person’s sectors, including senior volunteers, arts and community groups, Irish and international students and academic staff, practitioners, and policy makers.  The seminar, opened by Professor Noirin Hayes, commenced with an overview of the findings of the TOY project to date. This was followed by presentations on innovative intergenerational practice in Ireland, north and south, in early education services, care settings for older people, schools, arts and community settings.  Speakers included 

  • Anne Fitzpatrick and Carmel Gallagher, Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Margharita Solon, Mark Hazzard and Kathrina Hughes, Nas na Ríogh Housing Association, McAuley Place, Naas, Co. Kildare
  • Aishling Silke, Ballapousta Preschool, The Old Schoolhouse, Ardee, Co. Louth.
  • Ken King, Crosscare and former Primary School Principal
  • Vicki Titterington, Manager, Linking Generations Northern Ireland
  • And Third Age, Summerhill, Co. Meath.

The seminar provided an opportunity for participants to share ideas and consider collaborations for developing intergenerational projects in their work. The feedback was very positive with people commenting on new awareness of the segregation of the generations and the benefits for children, older people and communities from engaging in activities together. Many commented on feeling energised and inspired to exploit opportunities to bring the generations together in their services:  ‘ I really enjoyed listening to all the projects presented that endeavour to link the generations and it has inspired me to consider this track in the future’.

Resource materials are now available to download from the TOY project website: www.toyproject.net  Resources to date include a literature review and a report on action research based on 21 case studies of intergenerational learning in Ireland and six other countries. TOY is currently developing a Handbook and Toolkit for undertaking intergenerational projects

TOY combines research, policy, practice and training and its long-term objectives include:

  • increasing involvement of older people in community based services for young children
  • increasing numbers of intergenerational learning initiatives
  • broadening skills and knowledge in this area among practitioners, community organisations and policy makers.

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