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5 intervention programmes dealing with ageism among children and teenagers

18 May / 2015
  siforage  |  SIforAGE

Portugal, Spain, Lithuania, Austria and Brazil have been the five cultural backgrounds that the Work Package 3 of the SIforAGE project has chosen to develop an intervention programme with children. The aim of this intervention consisted of creating and testing this programme which focuses on preventing and correcting ageism among children and adolescents -11 to 14 years old- in those five different cultural settings. This programme was created based on a solid theoretical background in social psychology and on the significant results yielded in a pilot study in Lisbon, Portugal. It showed that the activities of the task could indeed make children and adolescents perceive older people in a more positive and competent way. This promising result performed as an incentive when the program had to be tested in other cultural backgrounds. Three sessions, all throughout two weeks, compose the programme. In the first week, children participate in two learning sessions aimed at suppressing stereotypes of ageing by exposing participants to a more diverse perspective of older people. In the second week, children engage in third session in which they interact with older people in order to improve the representation of older persons. Even though the results in Spain and Brazil were not entirely conclusive and need future further investigation, main conclusions and recommendations regarding the results of these sessions have been obtained and presented in the text named 5 Intervention Programmes with Children and Young People in 5 countries: Portugal, Spain, Lithuania, Austria and Brazil. Also, an e-book under the name of imAGES has been created as a training manual on preventing ageism among children and adolescents.   

The aforementioned recommendations go from generals to specifics. The general recommendations include references to the success of the programme in at least three different European cultural backgrounds; and, although the programme has been developed among 11-14 year-old children and teenagers, it is also highlighted that the fight against ageism should start at early ages. Therefore, a promising change to take into account could be the application of the programme to younger ages. The specific recommendations section is addressed to policy-makers, educators, NGOs in the field of infancy and adolescence, researchers and families and social networks. A specific recommendation is to strengthen and create appropriate legislation promoting this type of programmes in school settings. The imAGES programme should be a significant contribution in this account. The need of funds to promote research and further development on the programme aims is also highlighted in these recommendations. Advices about how educators can use the e-book during their teaching activities are also provided. It is also stressed the importance of understanding and discussing the need to change not only schools’ beliefs about ageing but to also transfer the message to the children, the families, communities surrounding the school setting and other educational contexts. NGOs are also encouraged to use the imAGES e-book within their activities and to pass on the work done to the surrounding community.

Similarly, the work of the researchers is seen as a very important one regarding the prevention of ageism in early ages. This is specially important given the lack of a clear theoretical background and proper evaluation in some current research projects about this same topic which are less effective. A final important point is highlighted: families and social network should act as agents of change, helping children to understand and follow a new vision of ageing.