College Students Create Online Platform to Connect Young People With Seniors
Big & Mini helps promote intergenerational connection while combating social isolation
OneZero: What is Big & Mini?
Aditi Merchant: Big & Mini is a nonprofit organization that works to connect young adults with seniors (typically over 60 years old) to form mutually beneficial connections and combat loneliness. It is a virtual platform, so all you need to join is a computer or phone. After going through a quick application process and background check you can be connected with someone who has similar interests and is from a different generation. The two individuals are able to talk with one another and learn about each other’s life experiences. Ultimately our goal is to promote intergenerational connection while combating social isolation, which has especially been exacerbated by Covid-19.
How did the idea come to fruition?
I am one of three co-founders (the other two individuals are Allen Zhou and Anthony Zhou). When Covid-19 started picking up in the United States in April, we kept seeing articles about seniors in senior living communities who had minimal social interaction and could not leave their residence because of heightened risk. Each of us volunteered in different nursing homes and senior centers throughout high school. We had gained a lot from the connections we were able to make with the seniors when hearing stories about their previous experiences, such as living through the Cold War.
Creating Big & Mini was our way of solving two problems at once. From the perspective of the “Big,” they are gaining companionship while on the side of the “Mini,” they are gaining access to mentorship. For example, if there is a senior citizen who was previously a nurse, we can try and match them with a young adult who is a nurse or nursing student. Big & Mini was started in response to Covid-19, but is helping to solve a problem (social isolation) which exists well past the scope of Covid-19.
We see Big & Mini as a long-term vision because there will always be individuals who are isolated and do not have the ability to meet other individuals in person. This is an easy way to connect people and allow them to give back to…