History of Legacies

In 2005, Jay Nelson and Jimmy Rhoades founded Nice Work Productions, bringing together more than 40 combined years of professional television production experience. They wanted to bring Legacies to life, but it simply wasn’t a commercial project. Then in 2007, while heading up the Animation and Digital Media Department at Detroit’s College of Creative Studies, Jay allowed his outgoing seniors to vote on their final Practicum project; the students chose Legacies.

Finally, a vision that existed on paper brought together flesh and blood students and seniors—and the outcome exceeded all expectations.

After witnessing the impact that first experience had on students and seniors alike, Jay and Jimmy founded the non-profit Nice Work Public Media in order to raise funds and expand the project to more schools and elder communities.

For more detailed information about Legacies’ founding story, visit the Legacies Project blog.

Science Behind Legacies

The collection of oral histories benefits the interviewer, the interviewee, and the community as a whole. Here we provide a list of sources for anyone who would like to learn more about how Legacies works.

Community Cohesion

Bringing generations together increases community cohesion, but what does that mean? Well, it means at its most simple that community members know each other. Instead of seperate households going about seperate lives, people notice each other. It may not seem like much, but the benefits of community cohesion involve the safety and education of everyone. The Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning has some good articles describing community cohesion studies.

How Life Review Benefits Elders

Reciprocity in Parent-Child Exchange and Life Satisfaction among the Elderly: A Cross-National Perspective describes a study whose findings show “that the capacity to be an active provider in exchange relations enhances elders’ life satisfaction.”

Quality of Life from the Perspective of the Elderly found physical and social isolation to be one of the most conspicuous factors in life satisfaction among the elderly.

Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument describes all human communication as various forms of storytelling.

Patterns of Social Relationships and Psychological Well-being among the Elderly describes a study in which it was found that elders who had social relationships, familial or unrelated, scored higher on tests of well-being than seniors who were socially isolated.

Intergenerational Relationships and Stereotypes

Younger and Older Adults’ Schematic Representations of Intergenerational Communication (PDF) describes a study in which young adults were asked to describe imagined conversations with elders, and vice versa. Both the younger and older participants made assumptions about intergenerational conversations.

Communication with Older Adults: The Influence of Age Stereotypes, Context, and Communicator Age discusses stereotypes held by young people about the elderly, and the negative effects of both positive and negative stereotypes on intergenerational communication.

Intergenerational Contact and Attitude Changes

Perhaps the most profound change brought about by the Legacies Project is to participants’ attitudes toward each other. Student interviewers who may have seen elders as backward, long-winded and irrelevant come to view them as bearers of fantastic stories and tried and true advice. Elders who regarded youth as impolite and rebellious find them to be respectful, active listeners.

Stereotypes and Perceptions of the Elderly by the Youth in Nigeria: Implications for Social Policy shows that education reduces stereotypes.

Informal Mentoring and Young Adult Employment examines how the presence of a non-parental adult as a mentor can affect a young adult’s transition into the workforce.