The Pillars of Prospect Park Increases the Capacity of Student Residence Housing Program
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The Pillars of Prospect Park is the first senior living community in Minnesota to bring together a range of ages — from babies to preschool to college students — to foster meaningful relationships through its award-winning intergenerational programming.
After a successful launch in 2022, The Pillars of Prospect Park is increasing the capacity of its Student Residence Housing Program by 50%, allowing 15 college students to rent an unfurnished, on-site studio apartment. As part of the program, college students make a commitment to interact with the residents through planned activities or casual socializing. Engagement opportunities have included students leading an art class, music program, or travel program, or otherwise engaging with older adult residents at meals or social hours.
Student residents have access to all the amenities at The Pillars of Prospect Park, including a library, café, fitness room, dining room, salon, golf simulator, lounges, and rooftop patios, and each studio includes a full kitchen, private bathroom, and in-unit washer/dryer.
“We knew the Pillars of Prospect Park was going to be unique from the beginning. We’ve created such special collaborations with university students that includes learning, research, internships, and career opportunities related to senior living and health care. We are delighted to expand this intergenerational program and collaborate with higher education to help students find beautiful housing options.” said Shannon Rusk, VP of Development at Oppidan Investment Company, the Twin Cities-based firm that developed The Pillars of Prospect Park and eight other Pillars Senior Living Communities in Minnesota and three in California.
College students have greatly benefited from the experience. While studying an intensive English program at the University of Minnesota, Marcela Vargas, from Bogotá, Colombia, practiced language skills with Pillars of Prospect Park residents. After her positive experience, Vargas chose to enter the Student Residence Housing Program to continue engaging with the older adults. Elsie Liu, from Qingdao, China, is studying Special Education at the University of Minnesota, and she was excited to not only find housing so close to campus, but also to participate in activities at the Pillars of Prospect Park. She developed a deeper friendship and family-like bond with one of the residents in the memory care community, making a lasting impact on both of their lives.
More than 100 children attend The Pillars Child Care, located within The Pillars of Prospect Park senior living community. Residents at The Pillars of Prospect Park are “Grandfriends” and engage with the children through activities like reading, stroller rides, and rocking infants.
“Based on the intergenerational programming at The Pillars of Prospect Park, my daughter has a connection with older adults that I haven’t seen previously in young children,” said Chelsey Hendrickson, mother of a child who attends The Pillars Child Care. “Whether we are at the grocery store or the park, she always gets very excited to see older adults and says hi to them as if they are each one of her grandfriends.”
The Student Residence Housing Program and The Pillars Child Care are part of the Intergenerational Connections program offered by Ebenezer Management Services in five of its senior living communities. The program includes opportunities for older adults to engage with youth of all ages to bridge the generation gap and create learning opportunities.
According to a 2017 study from Generations United and LeadingAge, the benefits of intergenerational programming are numerous for both students and older adults. They include decreased isolation, increased connectedness, increased feelings of worth, greater understanding of issues facing other generations, increased trust across ages, and increased sense of community. The most common activities enjoyed by members of the intergenerational programs are friendly visiting, arts, health/wellness, oral history/reminiscence interviewing, and language/literacy programs.
“Through our signature cornerstone, Intergenerational Connections, people of all ages share their talents and resources, supporting each other in relationships that benefit both the individuals and the community,” said Ebenezer Management’s Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications, Michelle Blankenship. “Ebenezer is committed to fostering these relationships to help bridge generational gaps and enrich lives.”
The Pillars of Prospect Park senior living community opened in May 2020; it offers 283 apartments with independent living, assisted living, and memory care options.
Since 1991, Oppidan has developed 580 projects in 41 states and parts of Canada. It provides construction management and asset management services to the Senior Living (including Watermark Retirement Communities and Ebenezer Management Services), Industrial, Commercial, Residential, Affordable Housing and mixed-use markets.
As part of Fairview Health Services, Ebenezer Management Services develops, consults, and provides management services to more than 100 senior communities throughout Minnesota and Iowa.
Jim Nelson is the Editor at Senior Living News, an online trade publication featuring curated news and exclusive feature stories on changes, trends, and thought leaders in the senior living industry. He has been a writer and editor for 30+ years, including several years as an editor and managing editor. Jim covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s HEALTHTAC events.