Council for Creative Aging & Lifelong Learning
Wartburg’s Council for Creative Aging & Lifelong Learning allows nearly 500 seniors in our Westchester, NY, assisted living, memory care, nursing home and home health care programs to express themselves through art, song, theater, poetry and oral histories. The classes are customized to best meet the diverse physical and cognitive abilities of each group.
Launched in 2009, the award-winning program was created to offer more hands-on creative activities such as painting, quilting, singing, poetry, creative writing and computer technology. To this end, we received a grant from the Wartburg Foundation and enlisted the expertise of Lifetime Arts, a local nonprofit organization that develops library-based senior creative aging.
Wartburg’s Creative Aging Initiative promotes greater emotional health, social engagement and lifelong learning for older adults through a wide range of arts-based programs led by professional teaching artists trained to develop the creative capacity of older adult learners. The initiative leverages existing resources and an eager and skilled volunteer network to offer multi-week programs in a variety of arts disciplines including choral arts, creative writing, painting, quilting, technology, African drumming, ceramics and oral history. These creative aging programs offer seniors opportunities to learn new skills, share lifetime experiences, build self-esteem and remain creatively challenged in the later years.
To help sustain our Creative Aging Initiative, we launched a bartering partnership that allows community artists to use our facilities after hours for classes, rehearsals and other events in exchange for teaching the Creative Aging programs. This helps to support local artists and allows them to share their expertise and knowledge with Wartburg seniors without additional financial burden for either party. In addition, Wartburg was the recipient of an AmeriCorps grant enabling us to have a dedicated volunteer, with an arts background and an interest in seniors, to coordinate programming with local colleges and universities.
Over the past several years, our Wartburg Creative Aging Initiative has been the recipient of numerous prestigious industry awards and recognitions, including the 2012 Innovation of the Year Award by LeadingAge New York, a premier organization dedicated to creating the future of aging and continuing care services in New York State. In spring 2012, Wartburg staff members were invited to conduct a workshop, “Lifelong Learning Through Creative Aging,” at the 2012 Aging in America Conference in Washington, D.C., presenting a model upon which other senior care organizations can develop their own creative aging and lifelong learning programs similar to ours. Partners for Livable Communities also selected Wartburg Creative Aging as one of two winners in their 2011 Stories for Change Contest and highlighted it as a “Best Practice” for innovative arts programs addressing the growing needs of older adults.