{Nonprofit Highlight} There’s a New, Intergenerational Preschool Coming to Rose Villa


Several years ago, a video featuring an intergenerational preschool popped into my feed. The program was based out of Australia and was dubbed The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. I was smitten. The kids helped the seniors, and the seniors helped the kids. Friendships were formed, and their relationships were so wholesome I felt I might explode.

Over the next few years, more and more videos from intergenerational programs found their way into my feed. They seemed to grow both in quantity and geographically: Australia, the UK, Germany, Canada, and even a few in the US.

Naturally, when I heard that a new accredited, intergenerational preschool was coming to SE Portland’s Rose Villa Senior Living Community, I had to find out more. After chatting with Rose Villa’s CEO, Vassar Byrd, and Preschool Director, Jennifer Loring, it’s clear that this program has the makings of something MAGICAL.

Intergenerational art project with a child and resident of Rose Villa Senior Living
A previous community art event at Rose Villa

The Inspiration Behind Rose Villa’s Intergenerational Preschool

If you’re not familiar (and I wasn’t before this conversation), Rose Villa is a 22-acre non-profit senior living community located in Oak Grove. Rose Villa is a Life Plan Community, meaning that they have facilities and amenities to engage seniors at all stages of aging: independent living, home care services, and a 24-hour nursing home.

Part of Rose Villa’s mission is to reimagine senior living. This means pulling down the “wall” that traditionally separates senior living from the rest of the local community. They’ve had great success with previous programs, such as a partnership with a local elementary school and Rose Villa’s gorgeous community garden. It’s no surprise that proposing an on-site, intergenerational preschool was met with enthusiastic support, both from residents and area families with preschool-aged children.

“As a not for profit it’s really important that we are always trying to serve the community.” – Vassar Byrd, CEO

For one, there are not many licensed preschool facilities in the area. Additionally, Rose Villa is creating the preschool as a department of the nonprofit (not hiring out to a third party). Most importantly, the preschool program was not business motivated – it was program motivated. The preschool at Rose Villa is not meant to generate income, but rather, to enhance the senior living community (which is certainly in line with their non-profit mission).

That’s because there are a lot of benefits to incorporating an intergenerational preschool.

Intergenerational Preschools Benefit Everyone

Benefits for Seniors

There is a lot of evidence that many seniors suffer from feelings of loneliness and isolation. This has a direct impact on their health and quality of life. Something about spending time with young children (such as an intergenerational preschool) helps aging folks.

Research has shown that such programs can lead to overall healthier outcomes including:

  • Less depression
  • Less morbidity
  • Longer life

In addition, being around small children has a way of brightening everyone’s spirits. Almost any parent can tell you of a time (or many times) when their child was brutally honest. Children come to topics with an innocence and sense of humor that can be especially enriching for seniors.

Benefits for Kids

Of course, young children benefit from these consistent interactions with the older crowd as well.

  • Many Portland families don’t have a grandparent nearby

An intergenerational preschool provides opportunities to create meaningful connections; something like an “adopt-a-grandparent” or a “grandparent away from home” is certainly possible.

“I’m passionate about bringing families together and creating opportunities for joy.” – Jennifer Loring, Preschool Director

  • Aging folks have an extreme amount of patience for young children

Seniors and kids alike benefit from a slower speed and full attention.

  • Getting to spend time around people that are aging

Many children, especially those that don’t live close to older relatives, may not have much interaction at all with seniors.

“Elders are being underutilized as both emotional and practical support for families.” – Vassar Byrd, CEO

Benefits for Parents

  • It takes a village

Many parents feel isolated as it has become more common for families to live increasingly further apart (I can certainly relate as my folks are on the East Coast). Rose Villa’s preschool is heavily influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach, a huge part of which relies on community. Rose Villa’s preschool hopes to create additional events for everyone to engage in outside of the preschool program (think potluck, holiday celebrations, and the like).

“Let’s come together. Let’s play. Let’s interact. I have this dream that friendships are formed between residents and families.” – Jennifer Loring, Preschool Director

Details About Rose Villa’s Intergenerational Preschool

  • Staff-run preschool will be on Rose Villa’s campus
    • A child-centered approach to scheduling and activities
    • Regular activities planned with nursing home residents
    • Volunteer opportunities integrated for independent living resident
  • Based on community need, the current plan is to have two classes
    • Preschool class (ages 3-5)
      • Anticipated start date of January 2023
      • 18 spots for children
        • 3 teachers, with a 4th teacher in rotation
    • Toddler class (24-36 months)
      • Anticipated start date of September 2023
      • 10 spots for children
        • 3 teachers, with a 4th teacher in rotation
  • Brand new buildings specifically for the children
    • Located near the nursing home facility to naturally integrate the program into the community
  • SO much space for kids to explore (and it’s all been mindfully integrated into the residential communities)
    • Beautiful outdoor spaces
    • 2-acre community garden
    • Large sandpit with a water pump
Roses in the community garden at Rose Villa Senior Living
Roses in the beautiful and expansive community garden at Rose Villa

While tuition hasn’t been set, Rose Villa is planning on charging a market rate similar to other on-site childcare facilities in the SE Portland area.

How to Find Out More

Rose Villa is currently offering private tours to prospective families at this time. A formal open house will occur after all remaining construction is completed (did I mention the kids are getting their own, newly renovated classrooms?).

It’s important to note that with Rose Villa’s flexibility and collaborative approach, the families involved in the first few classes of their intergenerational preschool will really be able to shape and grow the program. I absolutely agree with Preschool Director Jennifer Loring when she says, “Wonderful things are going to be born from this.

For further information or to set up a private tour of Rose Villa’s new preschool facility, please contact Jennifer Loring, Preschool Lead at [email protected], 503-957-4593.