Experience Corps®: A Civic Engagement-Based Public Health Intervention in the Public Schools
The Experience Corps® (EC) program is an innovative, community-based model for health promotion for older adults. Incorporating health promotion into new, generative roles for older adults, it brings the time, experience, and wisdom of older adults to bear to improve academic and behavioral outcomes of K-3 grade children in public elementary schools. The EC program is simultaneously designed to be a cost-effective, high-impact literacy support and social capital intervention for young children that doubles as a potentially powerful health promotion model aimed at improving the cognitive, physical, social, and psychological function of older adults and preventing disability and dependency associated with aging. In this program, older adult volunteers are placed in a critical mass in public elementary schools to perform standardized, meaningful roles developed by the program after selection by the schools’ principals as being critical unmet needs. In this chapter, we describe the development and major tenets of the EC model, the science underlying the model and data supporting the effectiveness of this intergenerational intervention for both older adults and children, and policy implications of social engagement programs like Experience Corps for long-term improvements in older adults’ health and well-being and practical guidelines for setting up an EC program in the local community.
KeywordsExecutive Functioning Civic Engagement Health Promotion Program Control School Baltimore City
Funding support for this chapter was provided by the National Institute on Aging under contract P30-AG02133, the Harry and Janette Weinberg Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, We thank the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, Experience Corps National, Civic Ventures, the Baltimore City Public School System, the City of Baltimore, and the Commission on Aging and Retirement Education for ongoing vision and support.
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