A group of teenagers participated with members of Hillsborough County’s Aging Services for an Intergenerational Friendship Mixer in Gibsonton last month.

Visitors to Hillsborough County Aging Services’ Gardenville Senior Center made some new friends last month. Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation teamed up with Hillsborough County Aging Services to host an Intergenerational Friendship Mixer where local teenagers spent the morning with senior residents.

According to Hillsborough County’s county media specialist, Todd Pratt, the goal of the mixer was to develop relationships between older adults and youth to enhance communications skills, bring together diverse groups and help reduce inaccurate stereotypes.

“Intergenerational activities help to build a sense of personal and societal identity while encouraging tolerance,” said Pratt.

During the event, attendees of all ages participated in a dance-related ice breaking activity and played games.

“They showed us a few moves that we didn’t know growing up,” said senior member Tonda Parish. “It was good to see. You hear so much about what kids are doing today and its good to see that there are good ones out there.”

The main activity during the event was an Intergenerational Speed Round Mixer where each senior member brought an item associated with a story or memory. The seniors sat in a large circle and were visited by a teenager every three minutes.

“They wanted to know what we did growing up too,” said Parish. “I was surprised. I thought they’d probably think, ‘Ugh! A bunch of old people!’ But they wanted to know; that was nice.”

Thirteen-year-old Brianna Townsend attended the event with the hopes of learning from those older than her.

“Anyone can say something that can influence you later in life,” said Townsend. Fred Woodson, also 13 years old, gained confidence from his time with the seniors.

“It taught me to be myself,” he said.

Gardenville Schoolhouse is located at 6219 Symmes Rd. in Gibsonton. To learn more about Hillsborough County Aging Services, visit www.Hillsboroughcounty.org.

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.