Before You Go - January 2014
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ICAA Recognizes Top Active Aging Programs

By Deborah L. Vence

Five programs received a special award for their creativity and excellence in active aging wellness.

The 2013 ICAA Innovators Achievement Award, established in 2003, highlights creativity and excellence in active aging, and recognizes programs that are leading the way, setting new standards and making a difference in the lives of older adults.

The programs were awarded by the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), an association based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The ICAA focuses its efforts on active aging, an approach to aging that helps older adults live as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness, and provides members with education, information, resources and tools.

The ICAA's awards programs enable the association to publicly recognize individuals and organizations that have made exceptional contributions in industries that serve the older adult market.

The five recipients of the 2013 Innovators Achievement Award were:

  • GIVE in All Directions (Seabury, Bloomfield, Conn.): Over an eight-week period, the vocational wellness initiative provided formal volunteering opportunities for individuals at all levels of function who live in Seabury's active life-care community.
  • Goodman-Rotary 50+ Fitness Program (Madison School & Community Recreation, Madison, Wis.): This program attracted new participants and offered more fitness opportunities by launching programs focused on activities in three areas: outdoor adventure, wellness education, and community involvement.
  • Improvisational Murder Mysteries Senior Theater (Sarasota Bay Club, Sarasota, Fla.): The murder mysteries theater program at this independent-living community is created by resident actors who become characters through a process of creative writing and group improvisation.
  • Brain Fitness Club (Brain Fitness Club, Winter Park, Fla.): Serving those with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia, this community program provides a therapeutic environment for individuals to take part in brain healthy activities, including cognitive stimulation, socialization and physical exercise.
  • IntergenSational (Plymouth Park Senior Living, LaGrange Park, Ill.): Plymouth Park's partnership with a local high school has grown over time into a collaborative and purposeful program linking students with residents in a wide range of intergenerational experiences.

The five recipients will receive a crystal award of recognition, and each will be profiled in ICAA's flagship publication, the Journal on Active Aging, in the 2014 calendar year.

The award recognizes programs and concepts that help advance active aging. The award winning offerings target the seven dimensions of wellness that are promoted by the ICAA. They are: social, emotional, vocational, spiritual, intellectual, physical, and environmental. The award also is presented in three categories: the ICAA Innovators Achievement Award, for programs and concepts that advance active aging; ICAA Innovators Practical Solutions Award, for creative products and services for active older adults; and ICAA Innovators Green Award, for environmental stewardship efforts.

The winners were selected based on the following five criteria:

  • Innovative: Is the program/initiative/plan different from what is currently being done in the field? Or, does it take a standard procedure and add an interesting new angle?
  • Pervasive: Does the program/initiative/plan expand into a comprehensive approach that engages an entire organization or community?
  • Ambitious: Does the program/initiative/plan break new ground, achieve a stretch goal or represent a paradigm shift?
  • Measurable: Are there specific actions, numbers or other measures that demonstrate success?
  • Dazzling: Does the application contain information that is so unique or powerful that the judges respond with great appreciation?

Moreover, the judges also focused their attention on those submissions that: included partnerships and inclusions of different groups (for example, older adults, staff, children, neighbors, businesses/charities); represented different dimensions of wellness; provided outcomes, so it was clear if the program/initiative succeeded; and were replicable (that is, the programs did not rely on a single person or location that others cannot duplicate). In particular, for the 2013 award entries, the judges looked for themes that reflected the industry's development and maturation.

Besides the five programs that received awards, four program initiatives achieved Honorable Mention as well. They were:

  • Liberty Lifestyles wellness program development (Liberty Lutheran, Ambler, Penn.) that was recognized for comprehensiveness and reach into assisted living and nursing care.
  • Bean Bag Baseball (CareLink, North Little Rock, Ark.) that was honored for collaboration and growth.
  • Rocketry with John (Atria Valley Manor, Tucson, Ariz.) that was recognized for uniqueness and successful launch.
  • Discover True North (North Hill, Needham, Mass.) that was honored for extensive collaboration and benefit to the local community.

"As ICAA's Innovators Awards program enters its second decade, we are thrilled by the continued growth and creativity of programs that foster health, wellness and quality of life for older adults," stated Colin Milner, ICAA's founder and CEO, in a press release. "In fact, we changed the name of the award category this year to emphasize that winning programs are inspiring achievements in active aging. We can all celebrate and learn from these initiatives."