SAN MARCOS — From a distance, it looked like Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos was hosting a student soccer game, or it could have been a Senior Center outing with grandchildren in attendance. In fact, it was North County’s first Intergenerational Games, which had 30 seniors pairing up with 30 Twin Oaks Elementary fifth-graders to compete in a range of sports Oct. 29.
Since 2002, Aging and Independent Services of San Diego has teamed up with local agencies to bring seniors and children together for a day of fun. The goal is to promote a bond between the generations. Each year, the events have expanded.
“We do these games in other areas of the county, but this is the first time we’re bringing it to North County, so we’re really excited,” coordinator Krystal Kumpula said.
“We hope this will become at least an annual event,” media liaison Denise Nelesen said.
Many of the activities, like the three-legged race, the bocce ball and the Frisbee golf contests were just fun events. Others had an educational aspect to them. It was Red Ribbon week at Twin Oaks Elementary so drug awareness was uppermost in the curriculum.
At one of the stations, students spun around baseball bats before competing in a “dizzy race.” After weaving dazedly back to the start line, the students were educated about the effects of alcohol. At another station, students bowled for cigarettes. A strike toppled 20 — the number in a standard pack.
The event was primarily for the seniors and children and there was virtually no audience. “It’s not like the Olympics where people come and watch the activities,” Nelesen said. “It’s more for the interaction that goes on with the pairing.”
“I like it because we get to play with seniors and know about them and have fun with them,” David Martinez, 11, said. “They’re real nice.”
“Am I smarter than a fifth-grader? I don’t think so!” laughed Patti Davis, David’s partner. “But we’ve had a really fun time.”
The character of the teams changed as the sun reached its zenith and baked the athletic field. By 11 a.m., many of the seniors had retired to seats in the shade of umbrellas to cheer on their partners.
“At this point, we’ve clearly established that the fifth-graders rule,” volunteer Bill Diaz observed. “They’ve worn them out!”
“I think they just enjoy watching the kids play,” volunteer Felicia Arrington said. “Watching them have so much fun brings them more joy and excitement.”