The Value of Intergenerational Creative Play

Why Positive Shift Creative Arts Telehealth hopes you will Attend Your Session with a Friend, Partner, or a Child 10+.  

7 Reasons for Valuing Intergenerational Creative Play

grandmother and nephew teenager play together doing horse transportation in a plants shop outdoor. sunny day and happiness having fun concept for different generations and ages. smiles and laugh

  1. Work stress and disability affects family relationships. Dancing, listening, making music together, combining art pieces to make something new, as a pair is a positive and fun way to build healthy relationships. Being as neither the parent or child are directing the activity they can relax into being with each other and enjoy the activities. The art, dance, song, rhythm, or poetry everyone makes in the group is an Expression of their voice. Everyone’s voice is heard and respected. The child exercises autonomy with each Expression and parents hear the child, which makes parenting easier and more enjoyable.

mother with teen daughter together in a park

2.  Modeling healthy Expression and self care are tools that can help the child as they begin their journey towards independence. Children who see parents take care of themselves through playful creativity are better prepared for caring for themselves.  As the child encounters difficulty in daily life they can remember what they learned in a sessions to make helpful choices more confidently.

Intergenerational relationships, family values, love, care. Poor, ordinary people.

3. Temporarily suspending parent/child power dynamics by being equal participants in the Creative Arts Telehealth session levels the playing field. Communication between the child and parent naturally becomes smoother, comfortable, and more honest. Giving the parent an opportunity to share their discoveries with the child opens a communication gate that might have been sticky. The child is now an ally. Creating art together creates new and wonderful parenting opportunities

intergenerational communication problems

4. Intergenerational activities can feel uncomfortable because adults may feel the need to take care of children in the group. The child is an equal participant. Positive Shift facilitators will create a safe environment for everyone. Our staff have the competence to work with what comes up in the group. Our focus is on what did you notice when you did the arts activity?  Answers might range from “I noticed that when I was tracing the line in the air that I wanted to move around. Then I thought that I had to sit. Then I remembered we are in control of what we chose to do, so I started walking and tracing the line together.”  That could reveal, “I feel uncomfortable when I’m given free rein.”  Sharing that revelation with a child is helpful, “Oh, I’m not the only one who gets a bit confused or weirded out by being in control.”  Intergenerational learning builds empathy and trust.  

Kids bring an energy and imagination that inspire us to Play. Their happy, joyful spirit is highly contagious. Kids move more than adults, which helps you feel less self-conscious when Expressing yourself through dance/movement.Two men father and son are sitting on the sofa in the living room at home and remember the funny events from the past. They laugh at the joke. Good family relationships

5. In the book Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the Soul, 2010, by S. Brown and C. Vaugn, research and practical application of Play is presented to demonstrate the role of Play throughout all the decades of our lives as a vital key to health and wellness. Panksepp’s (see earlier) research and collaboration showed the biological and social benefits of PLAY.  PLAY is a positive feeling that lowers stress responses and increases feel good neurochemicals. I hypothesize that this change in neurochemistry is a reason why patients who participate in hospital creative arts programs heal faster with better outcomes. It is a fun way to naturally, temporarily shift into feeling better physically and lifting your mood. Since kids bring this energy, which is catchy, children can enhance the Play benefits of sessions.

Senior woman is enjoying a catch up with her daughter. They are sitting in the kitchen drinking cups of tea.

6. Nurturing someone's creativity fills us with positive emotions. Biologically it is associated with lower stress hormones and increased feel good hormones as shown through Jaak Panksepp’s and other animal studies (Affective Neuroscience:  The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions, 2004). Intergenerational nurture and nurturing are good for the carer and receiver. It feels good to say, “Wow, I really liked the way you crawled through the chair. I could definitely see how snakey you were.” Conversely it feels good to hear, “I like the way that you made that picture. All the colours feel like smiles.”  

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Those are the reasons Positive Shift chose to go with an intergenerational group model. After experiencing an intergenerational, able and dis-abled dance group. Witnessing first-hand the possibilities and positive growth of all the participants, Positive Shift chose this radically inclusive approach. If you have any questions please feel free to write Wesdyne Otto at  
woman wearing a hat decorated with thread spools

Wesdyne Otto, will be facilitating or co-facilitating each of the sessions. I am an Expressive Arts Practitioner registered with the Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association. My qualifications are B.A. (Art & Design), B.Ed. (Art),  graduate Diplomas in Art Therapy and another in Counselling.  I have 20 years experience facilitating Expressive Arts, Art therapy, Community Arts groups for adults and kids. Including people living with varying abilities and economic/emotional crises.  
I am confident that there will be surprises and that it will be okay.  





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