Goodwin College is one of a select group of institutions across the nation chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to receive a grant in the amount of $10,302 to implement an “Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults” program. The one-year grant will be used to enhance connections between undergraduate students and older adults in the community. CIC launched this new initiative with support from the AARP Foundation to encourage colleges to create or extend programs in which students help low-income older adults (ages 50 and older) tackle key life challenges.
CIC President Richard Ekman said, “CIC hopes that this pilot project will serve as a first step toward the development of a national network of programs on independent college and university campuses that promote intergenerational interaction between students and community members.”
Twenty-one colleges and universities will be part of a new network of colleges that the AARP Foundation hopes will help establish best practices for engaging students in meeting the challenges of older adults — hunger, safe and affordable housing, income-generation, and social isolation — in the communities surrounding college campuses.
The goal of Goodwin’s project is to reduce social isolation in older adults. The new initiative will take place at a local health and rehabilitation center in East Harford. Twelve Occupational Therapy Assistant students and three Human Services college students will form teams and work together to assess the seniors’ degree of social isolation and the related health risks. Deanne Anderson, Occupational Therapy Assistant program director, and Sherrilyn Bernier, associate professor in Human Services, will facilitate the projects.
“We are incredibly grateful to CIC for this opportunity, since it supports Goodwin College’s career-focused mission on multiple levels,” said Health and Natural Sciences department chair Paula Dowd. “The hands-on experiences will enhance our students’ skillsets and make them viable candidates for future employment. Working with the seniors to significantly impact a critical social need speaks directly to our commitment to serve our community.”
“This grant makes it possible to fund student internships in authentic community settings,” added Diana L. LaRocco, Social and Educational Sciences department chair. “The funds provide opportunities for important cross-disciplinary work.”
Students will receive stipends from the grant funds and benefit from the hands-on clinical experience. As part of the project, the students will develop and participate in interviews incorporating Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences concepts with approximately 50 seniors. The student team will work with each senior to develop a digital story based on the interview. The program will start in fall 2017 and conclude in spring 2018.
Opportunities like the ones made possible by the CIC grant are expected to be of interest to prospective students looking for unique, practical experiences outside the classroom. Visit the Goodwin College website for information on the Occupational Therapy Assistant and Human Services programs.