“Someone said it’s like the big kids playing with the little kids and everyone gets along. We just love having the opportunity to do this,” Gifun said.
Kathy Urquhart, the director at the Center at Punchard, said the intergenerational concept is not new to Andover, which has always sought to foster relationships among the various age groups.
“We have always had a good dialogue with AYS,” Urquhart said.
Fahey agreed, saying the local seniors have supported local teens for years. Older residents are some of the biggest contributors at all AYS fundraisers, he said.
“They (seniors) buy their Christmas trees at our lot every year, donate money at our fundraisers and always support us at Town Meeting,” Fahey said. “They are very supportive of us, so the picnic and kayaking was a good way for us to come together.”
The relationship is expected to only grow stronger once the 21,000-square-foot youth center is built.
The project goes out to bid Monday, Aug. 26. Bids close Sept. 6 and the contractor hiring is set for Sept. 23. The hope is to see the new youth center welcoming the community sometime in October 2014.
The Center at Punchard, which is busting at the seams, plans to use the new youth center during the school day when the teens are in class as way of accommodating its growing slate of boomer and senior programming. There’s also the hope that both age groups can team up on some collaborative activities and classes, with one generation perhaps lending their expertise to the other in areas where they have more experience or understanding, such as computers,
“It’s so close to us, so good for us,” Urquhart said of the new youth center site. “We are very much looking forward to enjoying the space, too.”