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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: AgeSmart Community Resources

Learn how this agency partnered with a local university to develop an intergenerational social engagement program between college students and older adults to help combat social isolation and loneliness.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on AgeSmart Community Resources' Senior Skip Day. The agency was a 2020 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Social Engagement category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.

Social isolation and loneliness have increasingly been recognized as critical and growing public health issues impacting the lives of millions of older adults and their caregivers. Older adults who are socially engaged in their communities can counter these negative health effects by sharing their knowledge, talent, skills, experience and wisdom—having a positive and powerful impact on their communities and experiencing better health outcomes themselves.

AgeSmart Community Resources and Greenville University developed Senior Skip Day to raise awareness of social isolation and loneliness and their impact on the health and well-being of older adults. Students in the university's Experience First program worked with AgeSmart and Bond County Senior Services to identify older adults at risk of loneliness then skipped a day of classes to visit them.

The students offered to help with yard work, household tasks and technology troubleshooting. Students also held a celebration at the senior center and used their talents to provide music and games.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senior Skip Day did not take place in 2020. In its place, the students developed the Greenville University Pen Pal Program, which pairs freshman students with older adults in the community and residents in skilled and assisted living facilities. They correspond with each other, share stories, ask questions, and learn about life from each other's point of view.
 
To learn more about Senior Skip Day and how your agency can replicate this program in your community, contact Joy Paeth, jpaeth@AgeSmart.org.

For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.

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