Third generation thoughts and wonders about loneliness, social and family neglect, and the importance of intergenerational integration are at the base of the docu-reality series "80 and Four," which returns tonight for a second season on Kan 11.
"Almost four years ago, when the first season was filmed, we held meetings between children from my kindergarten and residents of a nursing home," says Gil Schlesser, a gardener and director of the Wildflowers Gardens. "It was amazing to see that even after the season ended, the participants continued to visit the garden, and the effect of the connection continued long after that."
On the intergenerational connection, Schlesser says: "It's something I've been exposed to a lot in recent years. I see it in my parents too. My mother is 71 years old, retired after decades of teaching, and you can see the decline. This connection is necessary, but we also need to understand how to create it. You have to think about the content, about the space, about creating interface points that will be natural. At this age, children are open to everything, they are looking for friends, and adults come from a place where they have already lost their meaning and sense of belonging."
"The connection continued even after filming." Schlesser,
"We created a space and activities that connected adults and children, and suddenly we saw that friendships were formed, and all that was left was to be there, to mediate and guide. And that's what I do as a gardener."
Schlesser says that what interrupted the continuation of the joint meetings last time was the coronavirus, whose effects seem to be evident to this day. "It's still present. The adults kept talking about their fear of going back to isolation, of being alone. Some said they would rather be sick but in contact with children and people than be confined at home. There are stories of people who haven't left home for two or three years, very difficult stories, and you see that this connection brought them back to life."
In the connection you created, you actually gave them a corrective experience.
"Exactly. And we saw at the beginning that they were reluctant. There is a woman in the group whose two daughters died of cancer, and for three years she did not leave the house. At first she came cynical and asked, 'What am I doing here?' and slowly a personal connection was formed between her and one of the girls. At that point she began to flourish, and today she says she goes to plays and performances, and meets with the girl to do things together. She says her life came back after she was sure it was over."
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