Parkvue Community, a United Church Homes older adult community in Sandusky, Ohio, has received a $4,000 grant from the Michelle Wightman-Karrie Wieber Charitable Foundation to support an interactive learning program that connects residents with educational opportunities.
The grant will support University Circle Interactive, an older adult program that provides accessible and innovative learning programming. University Circle is the cultural district in Cleveland, home to world-renowned museums, prestigious universities, nationally recognized hospitals, restaurants and parks. The University Circle Interactive learning program, called University Circle Interactive Cleveland, provides an outlet for lifelong learning. Just 13 retirement communities and community senior centers in Ohio have access to it.
“The grant will be used to offset the fund program fees of approximately $10,000 per year,” says Alissa Clouse, United Church Homes’ director of major gifts and grants. “Program fees primarily pay for the costs associated with coordinating with the speakers.”
University Circle Interactive Cleveland offers unique experiences using videoconferencing technology combined with the world-class resources of University Circle institutions. Videoconferencing enables Parkvue residents to “travel the world” using interactive technology in real time from their retirement community.
Rather than a typical lecture class, University Circle Interactive Cleveland invites conversations between educators and students. It brings experts into Parkvue, says Amy DiFilippo, Parkvue’s activities director, where they share their knowledge and years of experience with older-adult participants. Organizers encourage the audience to ask questions throughout the program, which typically is an hour long.
University Circle Interactive Cleveland “benefits our community by bringing top-notch programming presented by experts on a variety of topics,” DiFilippo says, and the presenters are “passionate about their topics, which in turn, helps to engage the residents.”
Although the programming is specialized for Parkvue residents, the public is also invited to attend as space allows.
Learning is a lifelong journey, and University Circle Interactive Cleveland creates new opportunities for Sandusky’s older adults, says DiFilippo. Obstacles to lifelong learning may include paying high course fees and finding transportation to and from a university campus. With University Circle Interactive Cleveland, the classes come to older-adult participants at no cost to them.
“I always say that we can continue to learn for as long as we choose,” DiFilippo adds. “This program challenges thoughts and perspectives with subjects one may not have easy access to. It allows the residents to stop putting off what they could have learned, and gives them a chance to do it now.”