A great many young children come home from school to an empty house because the parents are working. These are the so-called "latchkey" children. At the same time, there are many senior citizens without enough to do to fill the hours in a day. Bringing these two groups together may help both.
A federal pilot project in Ogden and 17 other U.S. cities is using senior citizens to watch over latchkey children.It should underscore what has been known for a long time - that senior citizens, with their wisdom, experience, and stability, have many ways in which they can serve their communities.The program uses senior citizen volunteers to supervise so-called latchkey children after school at libraries or other facilities.
In Ogden, the senior citizen volunteers are working in activities with children each Wednesday afternoon in the Weber County Library. Future programs will include guest speakers and educational activities, in addition to promoting socialization between the two generations. The first session last week attracted 15 children and included a U.S. Forest Service program on the recent fires in Yellowstone National Park.
The county hopes to establish the program on a daily basis and extend it to the library's satellite branches in Roy and North Ogden. The need is clearly there.
With more 400,000 Utah children in public schools and 70 percent of women with school-age children working, thousands of children are in latchkey situations.
The project could be a success because both sides benefit. It's a partnership between the older and younger generations - to help each other and have fun in the process.