Guest Columns

Back to school special

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Michael McCann
Michael McCann

As we wind down from a mild summer this year, we see everywhere around us that people are getting ready to go back to school. Stores are running their “Back to School Specials.” Whether its shopping discounts on school supplies, joining athletic teams, buying college dorm furniture, to helping children make the tough decisions such as picking between the Batman and Avengers backpack, everyone is gearing up.

So my question to you, my friends, is how can you and your life enrichment team gear yourselves and your residents up to go back to school?

There may be numerous answers to this. Let me provide a few suggestions.

  • August provides a great opportunity for caregivers to schedule and do a little house cleaning. Activity teams, in particular, seem to collect supplies, decorations, costumes, crafts etc. that take up valuable storage space. I'm not saying anyone has any “hoarding” tendencies, but it seems we fear throwing old supplies and decorations out because we may need them for some future program.

  • I would challenge you to look at your storage space. If you have not used a decoration or supply in at least three years, you may want to consider throwing them out and making some space. This theory could extend to offices, meeting rooms, files etc. Another benefit of doing this as a team-building exercise is that the team can reminisce about programs and events from the past together. You also discover supplies you forgot about, which in turn can help the creative process and spring new ideas that can brought to life.

  • Do you partner with local universities, colleges and school districts for continuing education and lifelong learning? Many of these institutions and organizations offer continuing education programs for older adults. They may even come out to your campus for some of the programs. This is a great way to layer in educational programing while developing community partnerships that are sustainable and can impact your organization in numerous ways.
  • Don't forget your best resource: Your residents. Your residents have countless stories, experiences, travelogues etc. that they can share together as part of your programming.
  • The local schools provide excellent opportunities to partner with and to have your residents interact with students in an intergenerational program that can impact both generations.

With a little creativity and embracing the time of year, your activity teams as well as your residents can start thinking about going back to school, furthering their own education and opportunities.

Michael McCann, MS, is the director of lifestyles for Friendship Senior Options. Readers with questions they would like answered in the blog for future articles can email him at at mike.mccann@myFSO.org.

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