Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

August 22, 2013

Getting acquainted; Teens, seniors forge bond over joint paddle and picnic

Teens, seniors forge bond over joint paddle and picnic

The way they see it, they’ll soon be romping in a giant, hip sandbox where the big kids get to play with the younger kids. And the older folks couldn’t be more excited about the invitation.

When the new Andover Youth Center is completed next year, the town’s teenagers and seniors will be sharing a hangout space, opening the door for all kinds of collaboration.

And the fact that the new youth center is being built behind Doherty Middle School — just steps away from the Center at Punchard (formerly Andover Senior Center) on Whittier Court — means that the two generations will be seeing a whole lot more of each other.

In anticipation of having that shared connection at the new center, the two groups have been getting to know each other a little better by spending some quality time together this summer.

“All along, we’ve said it will be community space,” Andover Youth Services Director Bill Fahey said of the new youth center. “We want to be good neighbors.”

Just a week after the Youth Center Building Committee announced an Oct. 7 start date for construction, Andover Youth Services took a group of seniors kayaking and canoeing on Foster’s Pond and then hosted an intergenerational picnic at its current headquarters on Pearson Street.

Jane Gifun of Andover, who leads the Women’s Outdoor Adventure Club at Punchard, said last week’s get-together was the kids’ idea.

“They want to get to know us and we were thrilled,” Gifun said. “We are very excited to be boating and interacting with the youth of Andover. It’s a fun experience for all of us.”

Gifun said nine women “from their 50s to into their 80s” signed up to paddle and picnic with their younger counterparts on Friday, Aug. 16.

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