Allendale Senior Living residents team up with local high school and middle school students for a back-to-school VR trivia tournament. Photo credit: Allendale Senior Living.

Oftentimes, younger and older generations are pitted against each other in our cultural battlefield. But imagine how effective they could be when they put their heads together.

At Allendale Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center and Allendale Senior Living, skilled nursing and assisted living residents combined brainpower with local middle school and high school students to compete in the Back-to-School Trivia Tournament recently held at the Bergen County continuum-of-care campus in Allendale, NJ. 

“I loved the connection, the energy, the enthusiasm from both generations,” said Ricardo Pena, vice president of life enrichment for Marquis Health Consulting Services in Brick NJ, which serves as Allendale’s administrative and consulting services provider. “Looking at that, that was the highlight of all of it. It’s a joy looking at young kids really inspired by the residents and their stories. ”

The teams competed virtually against resident-student teams (with 2 residents and 2 students each) from 30 locations across the Mid-Atlantic region. Each participant donned a borrowed Rendever virtual reality headset for four rounds of questions. Topics ranged from school-style subjects, including English, to popular culture spanning the 1930s to present day. This made for a fully immersive and engaging experience that was easy to set up. 

“The format was really phenomenal with the VR aspect of it. We actually kept it where it could be interacting in the sense of a 360 effect,” said Pena. “The trivia question comes up and we have a moderator [on-screen] that actually talks and says what’s going on.”

As for the competition itself, Cambridge Senior Living ended up taking the top prize but the Allendale teams gave them a good scare as the runners-up. But as Pena puts it, it was never about the prize. It was about the people, young and old. 

“Having them come together for a day of laughter, learning and all the memories, that’s key,” said Pena. “When they grow up and they look back and say what they’ve learned from a particular resident, I think it brings another level of joy to what we’re doing.”