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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Weber Human Services AAA

Learn how this Utah AAA collaborated with local senior centers and art instructors to develop an art gallery program for seniors that connects older adult artists to their community, motivates participants and encourages even more older adults to join art classes as a tool for social engagement.

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 Weber Human Services Area Agency on Aging's Weber-Morgan Senior Art Gallery program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Social Engagement category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
 
Art can be the motivation for social engagement. When a senior center art instructor expressed a desire to find a place that could allow older adult art students to share their artwork with the community, the Weber Human Services Area Agency on Aging joined forces with six local senior centers and five senior center art instructors to create the Weber-Morgan Senior Art Gallery.
 
The online gallery showcases the incredible talent of older adults who produce artwork at senior center art classes in Weber and Morgan counties. It connects older adult artists to their community and world, motivates the participating artists to continue to produce artwork to be shared, and serves as a class promotion tool that inspires and encourages other older adults to join art classes and engage with participants as a tool for social engagement. Any older adult who participates in senior center art classes in Weber or Morgan counties can contribute artwork created in the classes to the gallery using their own name or a pseudonym.
 
Over a 13-month period, 75 older adult artists have created approximately 400 artworks shown on the Weber-Morgan Senior Art Gallery website. The gallery gets approximately 500 visitors per month, including families and friends of participating artists living in different states and countries. The gallery demonstrates the power of art as a tool to address social isolation. It helps make each older adult artist feel special by offering them an opportunity to share their artwork. The gallery also helps inspire other senior center participants to engage in the art classes.
 
“The seniors who have shared their artwork on the website have found a new sense of pride, many of them have voiced that at this stage in life it feels amazing to see their work being appreciated and viewed! This site has done many things for the community and for the individuals who have been honored by outsiders' pure appreciation,” said Kathy Prevedel, Director of Roy Hillside Senior Center and a collaborator on the program.
 
Following the temporary closure of senior centers at the start of the pandemic, the Weber-Morgan Senior Art Gallery began displaying artwork created at home by the participating older adult artists to ensure artwork continued to be shared during the pandemic. The Weber-Morgan Senior Art Gallery partners are also working to restart art classes on a limited basis with social distancing protocols and safety measures in place.
 
This project can be replicated easily and with minimal expense by working with local art instructors and senior center managers. Project staff or participating older adults must take photos of completed artwork for uploading. An artwork release form must be signed by participants before their artwork is uploaded to the gallery.
 
The Weber-Morgan Senior Art Gallery program is also highlighted in the engAGING Practices: Best Practices for Helping Older Adults Stay Socially Engaged publication from engAGED: The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults. This resource highlights best practices implemented by 11 programs to help others within the Aging Network enhance social engagement among older adults in their communities. Questions? Contact Nobu Iizuka, nobui@weberhs.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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