West Center refocuses on ‘intergenerational’ part of name
Rucker: ‘Bridge gap between old and young’

       E.D. Rucker wants the West Center for Intergenerational Learning to live up to its name.
       Not that the third-year director thinks the facility hasn't made efforts to bring people of different ages together; he just thinks that more could be done.
       “When the center opened (13 years ago), there were a lot of events (like that),” he said. “I'd like to kick it up again.”
       The center's new summer brochure exemplifies this approach. For the first time, 3 of the 20 pages - covering a total of 18 classes or events - have been designated with the heading of “Intergenerational Programs.”
       Under that heading are classes in Spanish, musical instruments, dance, hobbies and sports, as well as day trips to the Arkansas River (rafting), Buckskin Joe and the Denver Museum of Science. The 18 were selected because they seemed good candidates for adults and kids learning or playing together, according to Rucker, who first came to West as an assistant in 1999 after helping start the city's Hillside Community Center in 1990.
       “The idea is to bridge the gap between old and young,” Rucker said. “Once you (do that), it's fun and both people (old and young) have a good time.”
       Among past efforts in that direction, one of his favorites is a project in conjunction with West Middle School teacher Connie Graven, where young students interviewed senior citizens and wrote their biographies.
       New intergenerational efforts this summer (though not listed in that part of the brochure), are the two Family Night events - Western Days and Line Dancing June 4 and a Hawaiian Luau July 23. Rucker said he's trying these in hopes enough people turn out to make them regular happenings.
       At the same time, Rucker said, he must be careful not to push intergeneratonal programs too hard. “A lot of old people don't want to hang out with kids. They don't want to be bothered,” he observed. And, “Young people are fine with older people if it's not a hang-out-everyday thing.”
       Rucker, 53, plans to lead by example. From the summer brochure, he says he plans to sign up for the beginning harmonica class (ages 11 to adult).

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