With nearly 15 percent of Hall County's population age 65 and older, two institutions are joining forces to educate and serve community members 55 years old and older.
This summer, the University of North Georgia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wisdom Project 2030 to provide a home for its leadership training and access to UNG undergraduate and graduate students for service-learning opportunities during the 2019-20 academic year.
For example, students from UNG's academic gerontology program observed and supported development of a strategic plan for Wisdom Project 2030. Wisdom Project 2030 recently was designated an independent nonprofit, and the leadership program is a "Big Idea" of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Vision 2030 board.
The most beneficial association, according to a UNG news release, will be between Wisdom Project and UNG's Center for Healthy Aging, which share a common vision. Wisdom Project's mission is to prepare individuals ages 55 and older to use their wisdom and talents in creative ways through community action and advocacy. The Center for Healthy Aging is designed to provide a quality education and services to older adults in north Georgia. Through collaboration, Wisdom Project members can benefit from and contribute to the Center for Healthy Aging's programs and services.
"This is a tremendous link for the center to the community," said Dr. Pamela Elfenbein, professor of sociology and human services and acting director of the Center for Healthy Aging. "UNG students also will have the opportunity to work with this program that embodies the paradigm shift to health education and engage with adults who are aging."
Sandra Williams, vice president of Wisdom Project 2030, said the benefits are immeasurable.
"The potential for Wisdom Project participants to interact with the Center for Healthy Aging will be unlimited as far as the center's scope of programs and emphasis on aging issues," she said.
The partnership launched its first cohort Aug. 16 on UNG's Gainesville Campus. During eight daylong sessions in the fall, Wisdom Project participants will learn about social services; arts and entertainment; health care; education; government; and business, industry and agriculture.
The final session and graduation from the program will be Nov. 15. Wisdom Project participants then will become Wisdom Keepers and members of Wisdom Project 2030.
"They will have the opportunity to discuss and resolve pressing community issues and participate in meaningful life-altering service projects, and advocate for positive change within the community," Williams said.
Previous projects by Wisdom Keepers include iTN Lanier, quality transportation services for seniors; One Hall United Against Poverty; and a community education program for Rape Response.
UNG students will have the chance to work on projects and more with Wisdom Project, Elfenbein said.
"Wisdom Project is hopeful that this collaboration will lead to additional opportunities to partner with UNG in the future," Williams said.