CCN: a canvas of intergenerational caring


By: Kathy Guisewite
Caregivers Community Network Coordinator

Paint Team

Students who participate in the Caregivers Community Network – a collaboration between Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS) and James Madison University (JMU)  - are finding that art is a fun way to ‘connect, create, and contribute’ to their weekly home visits in our local community.  In this one credit course at JMU, students train to offer respite to caregivers of those sixty years old and older, working hard to get to know the care recipients and offer them experiences that lift their spirits and stimulate their minds. 

Participating in art activities taps into many aspects of well-being, and offering arts and crafts has evoked newfound self-confidence, excitement, and imaginative fun for Caregivers Community Network participants.  Thanks to the Harrisonburg Pilot Club, CCN was awarded funding that enabled the purchase of canvases, paint, and brushes.  Students take these supplies on home visits and explore creative options with the care recipients.

There are times when older adults are apprehensive about art activities.  Self-doubt might surface or remembrances of childhood when they felt or were made to feel that they were not artists and therefore there was no need to invest in such.  Sometimes, the students encounter eagerness and people with a real thirst for such measures of self-expression.  And sometimes, the students themselves question how well such artistic endeavors might go when they, themselves, claim to have no artistic abilities. 

Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”  When the words, “Let’s try this as a team effort” surface, art in these circumstances can take on a beautiful life of its own.  Planning begins to happen.  Colors are chosen.  Stories are told.  Laughter spills over.  And something magical begins to take place as art inhabits the dining room table and the minds and hearts of those gathered there.

While CCN is addressing the tangible needs of caregivers and those they care for, it seems the unspoken lines across the canvas are always about the relationships being built and the lovely gifts being discovered between generations.  It is fitting that Van Gogh also recognized the merit of such.  He said, “The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

To learn more about Caregivers Community Network, visit or contact Kathy Guisewite at 540.830.8445.

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Back to Top

Related Articles