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AARP's Experience Corps Pairs Older Adults And Kids For An Intergenerational Learning Experience

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 5:15am
Updated: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 8:13am

What if you could provide young children who need help reading with a free tutor? That’s what the city of Tempe did with its AARP Foundation Experience Corps partnership. Nearly 90 elementary school students got much-needed support this year thanks to the program. 

Bev Rogers is an Experience Corps volunteer. 

"And so we work with first, second- and third-grade children," she said. "Children who are aren't having serious reading difficulties, but just need a little extra help.

Rogers has been helping kids read for the last five years. But the payoff really happens when the kids have that “aha” moment — take this first-grader Rogers worked with a few years ago.

"When it started to click with her. It was a transforming experience," said Rogers. "It just changed her whole personality. I mean, she walked with her head high and was proud of herself and had a kind of I-can-do-it attitude. And that was just remarkable to watch. And to various degrees, that happens with a lot of our kids that we work with."

Besides helping them become stronger readers, the program also helps bridge the generational gap between young and old. 

"It's fun to be with them," she said. "And I think a key keeps me younger, to be with children, frankly. So it's a two way street. You know, we're helping them and I think they're helping us feel that we're making a contribution to our community."

Tempe’s Experience Corps program has been around for more than a decade and serves as a national model for other communities that also have Experience Corps programs. Because of COVID-19, the city and Tempe Elementary School District worked together to schedule virtual tutorial sessions. During the pandemic, 40 tutors and nearly 90 students served virtually.

Rogers' Literary Picks

  • Cozy by Jan Brett
  • Dreams by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Abuela by Arthur Dorros
Education Aging