Promoting Purposeful Lives for Greater Good: Civic Engagement Programs of Aging Organizations

By Cullinane, Patrick | Generations, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Promoting Purposeful Lives for Greater Good: Civic Engagement Programs of Aging Organizations


Cullinane, Patrick, Generations


Activities and resources.

The nation's leading aging organizations have committed themselves to the vision of promoting purposeful lives for greater good in the form of civic engagement. The American Society on Aging (asa), the National Council on Aging (ncoa), and the Gerontological Society of America (gsa) recognize and respect the social capital of an aging America. With the generous support of the Atlantic Philanthropies, each organization has made strategic commitments to achieve this vision. This article highlights their work and lists available resources related to it.

ASA Civic Engagement Programs

In one of the five goals in its five-year strategic plan, the American Society on Aging commits itself to strength-based approaches to aging. These approaches affirm what all older adults have to offer in contributing to the quality of life for themselves and their communities, asa's civic engagement efforts are based in the commitment to strength-based approaches to aging.

To promote asa's civic engagement efforts, the Atlantic Philanthropies has provided funding to ASA for a three-year effort to infuse the concept and practice of civic engagement into the full range of asa's activities- and, by extension, into the broader field of aging, asa highlights civic engagement in its publications, including Generations, asa's national newspaper, Aging Today, and its constituent group newsletters. Other means by which asa is focusing on civic engagement include the following:

Educational sessions. The asa-ncoa Joint Conference, held annually, provides three civic engagement opportunities. This year, one of these is a daylong program, "Rethinking Civic Engagement: Broadening Our Vision." Participants will discuss effective ways that the non-profit, government, and corporate sectors can tap the volunteer potential of an aging America; identify effective ways to advocate in Washington for policy that will enhance civic engagement for elders; identify examples of programs that are expanding the availability of meaningful volunteer opportunities for older adults; and discuss a variety of approaches or models for building community partnerships and training older adult volunteers.

Also on the Joint Conference program are thirty-two civic engagement sessions and a peergroup session focusing on the topic. Civic engagement offerings are also planned for asa's upcoming annual Autumn Series on Aging in San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Promotion of diversity and cultural competence. New Ventures in Leadership, asa's pioneering program to develop leadership skills among professionals in aging who are people of color and to enhance their involvement in the national aging arena, plays a critical role in asa's promotion of diversity and cultural competence in civic engagement. For example, each year at least five nvl participants choose civic engagement of older people as the subject of their mandatory research and practice. The projects, featured each year at the Joint Conference, highlight the presence and value of civic engagement in a diverse range of communities, and provide models and examples for a wide variety of activities in the field of aging.

Civic engagement website. ASA has established a website to help its members and others in the field to become better informed and gain access to the latest civic engagement resources. The site is at www.asaging.org/civiceng. It features promising practices and upcoming educational opportunities as well as current reports and other resources. In the "What's Happening" section, people in the field can share their civic engagement activities with others.

Assistance for journalists covering the age beat. Through the Journalists Exchange on Aging (jeoa), a network established with the support of ASA, journalists can gain access to sources and , background about civic engagement. For example, papers on civic engagement policy and social issues, story ideas, and resource lists are available ^www. …

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