107 Steps to Happiness
This episode invites you to join us as we discover a gem in the heart of Los Angeles -- what may well be the model for conquering the "Epidemic of Loneliness" that is quietly gnawing away at the happiness and longevity of our generation.
The Wallis Annenberg GENSPACE is a remarkable place. This is not our parent's "Senior Center." We were truly blown away by our experience there. Based on extensive research and planning, GENSPACE is model for the nation.
GenSpace is spearheading a reinvigoration of what it means to be a “senior center.” — Part of GenSpace’s mission is to lead the way in changing the national conversation on senior centers through evidence-informed programming:
Changing the Conversation
Is the term “senior center” still appropriate and reflective of the way people are aging today?
Senior center” is a term of familiarity among older adults and communities, and elicits a particular set of expectations that we have come to understand.
However, do older adults wear that term/badge with honor? Can the term be read as derogatory?
As the aging continuum continues to expand, we must look towards the guidance of our older adults on what falls under the term “senior.”
Meeting the Needs of Older Adults
Engaging, dynamic senior centers that meet the needs of older adults today and in the future are crucial for communities throughout the country.
GenSpace serves as a pioneer in better understanding what diverse older populations want and need, as its location in Koreatown is one of the densest and most culturally diverse communities in the country.
The needs of older adults are not what they used to be—particularly with a technologically advancing and more mobile society. Senior centers must adapt to these advancements in order to help older adults remain connected and address their needs.
GenSpace conducted robust focus groups of diverse older adults living in the Koreatown community to find out what they wanted and needed in a new community space. GenSpace’s programming and classes are a direct reflection of this.
• Combating Social Isolation
GenSpace is dedicated to fostering connection for older individuals through many different facets. By creating opportunities for storytelling and fostering meaningful intergenerational conversations through partnerships with schools and other younger localities, GenSpace takes on a community-based approach to combating social isolation.
From a cutting-edge Tech Bar, to intergenerational chats, to a horticultural therapy space, to everything in between, GenSpace is working to develop meaningful programs for older adults. Our approach is based on research and in partnership with leading Universities, local non-profits and small businesses. We encompass both in-person and virtual programming, so that no older adult is without access to our classes and events.
• Wallis Annenberg Leadership Initiative
The Leadership Initiative works with national tech, business, health, and entertainment leaders to reassess how we as a society view older age, andhow we can change the stereotypes and conversation around older adults.
GenSpace actively promotes older adults’ use of and familiarity with modern technology.
State-of-the-Art Tech Bar
Technology has become an increasingly important tool for older adults to stay connected, providing access to the goods, services, and support systems needed to stay healthy and thrive in today’s world. Through digital services, older adults can check in with family and friends, schedule time with health care providers, find healthy foods and recipes, share their knowledge, volunteer for meaningful causes, and even learn new skills—all from a safe distance. Promoting familiarity and connectedness with emerging technology will be major priorities of GenSpace’s state-of-the-art Tech Bar, which will include laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Ongoing Tech Events
As part of its “Aging Out Loud” Leadership Initiative series, GenSpace will host periodic panels and events discussing the relationship between technology and older adults, and the role that older adults play in the future of technology. Our first such event, Digital Bridges: Why the Future of Tech Depends on Older Adults, was held on November 18, 2021 and included panelists from the programming
Annenberg Foundation’s Commitment to Older Adults
In addition to founding the Wallis Annenberg GenSpace—which is the brainchild and vision of Wallis Annenberg herself—the Annenberg Foundation has:
Established equitable vaccination clinics throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that all individuals—especially older adults— are able to easily get the resources to stay safe and healthy.
Launched the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, a think tank focused on studying diversity and promoting the inclusion of marginalized groups, including older adults, in entertainment and media.
You may, like us, resist the idea of joining a senior center. We ask you to suspend that impulse for a few minutes to experience what we did. You may be content and connected -- if so, you are in the fortunate minority. But we bet you know others who are not, and we hope you will share this episode with them.
GENSPACE is magic. Listen and you will hear what we mean.
Photo © Jason O'Rear