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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Region IV Area Agency on Aging

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Region IV Area Agency on Aging's Campus for Creative Aging program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Healthy Aging category.

The Campus for Creative Aging program was developed by the Region IV Area Agency on Aging team with the goal of helping older adults in southwest Michigan be creative, embrace new experiences and prevent social isolation. It began with two programs. The first was a fee-based Aging Mastery classes that rotated throughout the region. The second was a state-of-the-art, fee-based Computer Learning Center run by a team of older adult volunteers. The team at Region IV has some more exciting programs in the works including a Sounds Good Choir and 10 Campus for Creative Aging kiosks located at partner organizations.
 
The Campus for Creative Aging program has been a definite success for the more than 740 older adults who have participated. . Through this creative programming, older adults have been given the chance to truly engage with their community and reimagine what aging looks like.

And for their part, the Region IV team has enabled this new outlook for the older adults—with more and more people noticing this every day. Older adults, employers, community planners, business and the general public are increasingly seeing older adults as a vital community asset with wisdom, talent and expertise that should be valued by all. The team is helping others shed the idea that older adults are solely in need of services and supports, in favor of the concept that older adults have value they can offer the community.

The Region IV team has been able to reframe the conversation from one that focuses on the challenges the growing of the older demographic might present to a conversation that presents older adults as vital community assets and, in the process shifting public discourse. Older adults are advancing social causes, finding new purpose in volunteer efforts, hobbies, careers or new interests and launching business ventures decades past what was once considered traditional retirement age. Campus for Creative Aging programming supports, fosters and advances those efforts in concert with organizational partners.

For AAAs interested in starting a similar program in their community, the Region IV team has a few suggestions. They want other AAAs to know that although the Campus is a partnership and a physical space, it is most importantly a movement and can represent a significant shift in community mindsets. It is crucial to reframing the conversation from needs-based aging to strength-based. Services and supports can be presented as a way to meet needs as they arise, while allowing for maximum engagement in life across the lifespan—as dictated and desired by the individual. The first step is to shift the conversation on aging and establish a clear vision for what aging could look like in your community. From there, the possibilities are endless.

“You make me feel like I still have value. And now I feel like the greater community values meand other older adultstoo. Thank you!” - A participant of the Campus for Creative Aging program
 
To learn more about Region IV Area Agency on Aging's Campus for Creative Aging program, contact Lynn Kellogg, CEO at lynnkellogg@areaagencyonaging.org.

Want to learn more about the 2019 AIA Innovations winners? REGISTER NOW for our new four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs.
 
For more information about the 2019 winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!

 

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