Vital Aging Network

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Service Learning

The traditional volunteer service of doing good for those in need is gradually being replaced by a new ethic of service learning. New approaches to service encourage civic learning and personal development of volunteers while empowering those in need toward self-determination.

The service learning approach fits with the interest of older adults who want to remain productive and involved in community service but also want to gain personal learning and enrichment while providing useful service.

Schools and nonprofit agencies now incorporate such qualities into programming for development of youth. This programming guides groups of students through a process:

  • Identifying the community’s needs
  • Prioritizing the needs that they want to address
  • Identifying strategies to make a positive difference
  • Developing plans for action that are realistically within the boundaries of available resources
  • Carrying out the plans
  • Evaluating the results
  • Reflecting on the learning that they have gained from the process

Why not apply this same approach to opportunities for older adults? Or to efforts of intergenerational teams?

Page Author: Jan Hively

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