Pittsburgh Nonprofit Fosters Intergenerational Dialogue, Programs For Youth And Seniors
Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Frank Sinatra’s jazzy “Fly Me To The Moon,” and the classic “L-O-V-E” from Nat King Cole are all included in “Nostalgic Nod,” a three-hour playlist curated for seniors by Pittsburgh youth.
The song collection is one of more than 150 pieces of content produced by the nonprofit media organization Elderly Embrace Care Network (EECN). Senior storytelling podcasts, informational infographics on Instagram and blog posts about hearing aids and Generation Z all seek to promote intergenerational dialogue and respect for the elderly community.
The two-year old nonprofit garnered additional attention during the pandemic for its educational pieces on senior isolation and anti-elderly and anti-Asian hate. While the past 15 months have socially isolated many seniors from their loved ones, 16-year-old co-founder and executive director Hannah Shin said loneliness has been an issue long before 2020. She said the organization celebrates seniors rather than telling their stories as an afterthought.
“Spikes of COVID cases in nursing homes, as well as the rise in hate crimes against our elderly, those are the discussions when seniors were brought to the forefront of news,” said Shin. “But we really wanted to create a platform where they're constantly talked about.”
The rising senior at North Allegheny Senior High School founded the nonprofit with her older brother Joseph, a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh. With a team of peers, the duo has reached listeners in 14 countries with their podcast and garnered thousands of views cumulatively across online platforms.
Part of EECN’s mission is education, including programming that informs seniors about Generation Z and different types of hearing aids. The organization also educates caretakers on tangible steps to take regarding health care and nutrition. For youth, topics range from introductions to Parkinson's disease and dementia to the financial burdens of nursing home care.
The larger message beyond education is celebration and conversation. EECN hosted the National Senior Citizens Celebratory Challenge in the fall to encourage youth to reflect on impactful elders in their lives. Along with the playlist, the website provides a joke book and videos to play sudoku with a young person.
“We really look at a holistic view of what we can do to make seniors laugh, smile and be able to have a better life and enjoy their time,” Shin said.