Friday, February 11, 2022

Connecting seniors with K-12 youth - program design

Today I read an article from the Churchill Fellows blog about "harnessing the assets of the older people in our communities, including those living in long-term care and those living with dementia, and supporting them to build deep relationships with children and young people who are experiencing poverty and disadvantage."

This article outlines strategies for doing this,  including "overcoming silos to make the most out of resources".

This is something I've thought about for a long time. Senior citizens have been volunteers in tutor/mentor programs I led in Chicago between 1975 and 2011, but there's never been a strategy that would connect seniors systematically in youth tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago.

Below is a guest article I wrote for the AARP magazine in 2002.

I've followed the Churchill Fellows program for more than 20 years and hosted three different fellows between 1998 and 2006.  One was Clair Kime, who wrote this article summarizing her visit with myself and other tutor/mentor leaders in Chicago, Boston and New York in 2005.

AARP does encourage senior citizens to volunteer with youth, through programs like Experience Corps. However, I don't see a map-based strategy that connects seniors with youth the way the Churchill Fellows article envisions.  

When I say "map based" I mean leaders in different sectors should be innovating ways to make mentor-rich non-school tutor and/or mentor programs available in every high poverty area, for  many years.  

Such programs need a mix of volunteers working directly with youth, and working with program leaders to operate the program, raise needed funds, and build constant improvement.  Seniors have many work-backgrounds and a range of talents and could not only support individual programs, but lead city-wide efforts.

As you're doing your planning, take a look at the Churchill Fellowship article and think of ways you can involve seniors in many of the ways they describe. 

I'm on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Let's connect and talk about these ideas. Find links here.


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