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St. Ann’s Center for Intergenerational Care

by Joe Gallagher

Last month, I had the opportunity to take a tour of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care’s Stein Campus in Milwaukee.  I’ve heard a lot about the center’s intergenerational programming, but as soon as I set foot within the main lobby, the excitement began to unfold right before my eyes…

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The History Behind the Concept

First, let’s go back in time to who started it all. Back in 1983, Sr. Edna Lonergan began operating an adult day care in the basement of the health center of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Her passion for helping others and her patience with everyone she encountered led her to develop the Benevolent Touch Program in 1996. The aim of the program was to educate individuals on the practice of providing positive, nurturing touch to ensure recipients that they are in a safe and caring environment.

She would go on to pursue her passion for this practice by building an all-ages daycare in 1999. It was named the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Stein Campus. Sr. Edna Lonergan still serves as the president today.

Intergenerational Programming

The St. Ann Center brings together adults with ‘different abilities’ (not ‘disabilities’) from underserved communities, providing them with personalized day programs, daily exercise routines, educational opportunities, and more. The campus is open on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. They also offer specialized dementia care and a 24-hour overnight respite care wing that’s open seven days a week.

However, this is only half of what the campus provides. The campus also provides personalized daycare programs, before- and after-school programs, and even summer camp offerings for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 12 years old.

The adults and the children are provided these services all under ONE roof. 

Every day, the adults, seniors, and children are provided with an engagement opportunity in the central atrium space, complete with games and toys. It is one of the most amazing things to watch.  Outside performers are also brought in from time to time to provide entertainment for all.  The children interact with the seniors and the adults, many of which use wheelchairs and walkers but the children don’t recognize these differences; everyone plays together.

There are so many smiles and so much excitement. It’s truly magnificent.

An average of 155 adults and 135 children participate in these daily activities each day at St Ann Center’s Stein campus.  There’s also an additional 100+ members of the community who utilize internal services each day. These services include (in no particular order): the Ageless Beauty Salon, Aquatic Center, Art & Ceramics Studio, medical clinic, music therapy, outpatient therapy, counseling & support groups, wellness offerings, the Java Bar & Café, and Sr. Edna’s jewelry shop featuring her own handmade jewelry.

“Young & Old Together”: No One is Alone and Everyone is Celebrated

When you see the interaction between the children, seniors, and the members of the community utilizing the services you truly get a sense of community. I was only there for a few hours and that was more than enough time for me to want to go back and participate in something, anything within those walls.

I cannot tell you the last time I felt such a sense of excitement and positivity. Everyone loved being there.  If you’re intrigued to learn more, I highly recommend you read more about the Center and its endeavors.

Lastly, I want to thank Sr. Edna for allowing us to take a tour of her wonderful facility. And I’d like to thank Sharon Selz for being my tour guide and educating me on the Center and its daily happenings. The St. Ann Center is a living, breathing example of the endless possibilities that can come from the Intergenerational Housing typology and model. 

Photo credits: St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care

About Joe Gallagher

Originally from just outside of Philadelphia, Joe graduated from Temple University with a master’s degree in architecture. He and his wife relocated to the Madison area in August 2016. In June of 2017, he joined JLA Architects as a project assistant. Senior Living Design is something that Joe has always been passionate about. His goal is to enhance collaboration between designers and medical professionals within the field of aging and memory loss.

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