FE UNIVERSITY: Living LiFe Learning Longer

Not only is Team FE engaging young people in creating healthy communities but we are also engaging seniors, senior citizens that is.

During the past two years, Andrea Newby, Iron County UWEX Family Living Educator has been working with local leaders in the aging sector and local senior residents to create programs that promote aging friendly characteristics.

What are aging friendly characteristics? According to the article “Moving Beyond Place: Aging in Community” published in the Journal of the American Society on Aging, aging – friendly communities are:

  1. Inclusive. People of all ages, races/ethnicities, and abilities, especially elders, are welcome.
  2. Sustainable. Residents are committed to a lifestyle that is sustainable environmentally, economically, and socially.
  3. Healthy. The community encourages and supports wellness of the mind, body, and spirit, and, to the same degree, plans and prepares programs and systems that support those dealing with disease, disability, and death.
  4. Accessible. The setting provides easy access to the home and community. For example, all homes, businesses, and public spaces are wheelchair-friendly and incorporate universal design features. Multiple modes of transportation are encouraged.
  5. Interdependent. The community fosters reciprocity and mutual support among family, friends, and neighbors across generations.
  6. Engaged. Promotes opportunities for community participation, social and civic engagement, education, and creative expression.

FE UNIVERSITY: Living LiFe Learning Longer is a program that was created by the Iron County Aging Friendly Communities Coalition and is based on the characteristics of an aging friendly community. FE UNIVERSITY is currently being implemented in Iron County. The mission of FE UNIVERSITY is to provide quality, university level learning experiences for adults ages 50 and over through diverse short courses and lectures, and community initiatives. We provide opportunities for people to discover the joy of lifelong learning at its best without the pressure of tests, grades, or educational requirements. It is an inspiring educational program that will keep you living life learning longer.

FE UNIVERSITY kicked off its first term in the summer of 2014 and will run for three terms during the year. During our first term we offered a  writing course taught by a UW-Milwaukee English and Writing PHD student. There were eight participants and all of them overwhelmingly enjoyed the class. The students enjoyed writing together so much that they decided to continue to meet as a group on a monthly basis.

We are currently in our second term of FE UNIVERSITY hosting one course titled G-WOW: Changing Climate, Changing Culture, taught by a UWEX Environmental State Specialist. The planning committee for FE UNIVERSITY is working on the spring term, which will begin in February 2015. We hope to schedule 5 classes on a variety of topics.

If you are interested in participating in FE UNIVERSITY please contact Andrea Newby at the UW-EX office, she can help you with enrollment and specifics. Also, if you have ideas for a class topic or have an expertise in a certain topic we would appreciate your input and can work with you to schedule a class.

Programs like FE UNIVESITY are important for communities to offer. Studies show that older adults who are engaged in meaningful programs experience better overall health and wellbeing and become significant contributors to their communities rather than passive recipients of services.

20140908_124157

2014 FE UNIVERSITY Narrative and Knowledge class participants

For more information about FE UNIVERSITY or the Aging Friendly Communities Coalition contact Andrea Newby, Iron County Family Living Educator at the Iron County UW-Extension office located in the Iron County Courthouse.