Youth Leadership and Engagement Program

Many people know NU-HOPE Elder Care Services primarily through the direct-services we provide to seniors and caregivers. However, our mission statement actually has 3 other key components: Education, Leadership and Advocacy. While direct-services address the current needs of seniors, Education, Leadership and Advocacy are equally important, as they influence the ability of our community to address future needs.

Education, Leadership, and Advocacy are the cornerstones for one NU-HOPE program that focuses on building a better tomorrow: the NU-HOPE Youth Leadership and Engagement Program.

Through our Youth Leadership and Engagement Program, NU-HOPE works with school groups, youth organizations, and community members to increase awareness of the needs of older residents and to create leaders with the compassion, experience and education necessary to build strong, supportive communities.

The Youth Leadership and Engagement Program strives to increase awareness of issues that affect our older residents and explore how these issues impact our families, businesses, and government. Ways that we accomplish this are through mentorship programs, service projects, sensitivity training sessions, and involving youth in multi-generational activities.  These experiences increase student understanding of the issues impacting seniors today and will assist them in becoming more effective leaders in the future.

As part of the NU-HOPE Youth Leadership and Engagement Program, our newest member, Kimora, is participating in our Summer Intern Program. Kimora, a student at our local high school, assists at our Diamond Café, helping lead activities while learning more about the seniors who attend this congregate meal site.

Also, as part of our Youth Leadership and Engagement Program:

— Over 300 students from local schools participated in our ARTS Exhibit during Older Americans Month by writing about their favorite senior, providing artwork for our public exhibition, and incorporating senior issues in class discussions and other assignments.

— In partnership with Manasota Lighthouse, students with visual impairments completed internships at our Sebring Thrift Store. While at the store, they learned about the need for nonprofit organizations to gain community support, explored various aspects of resale businesses, and assisted with store operations.

— Members of Campfire USA and the Mason G. Smoak Foundation Youth Leadership Class participated in special sensitivity training sessions provided by NU-HOPE. During these trainings, students engaged in activities that simulated many of the challenges faced by seniors as they age (i.e. low vision/hearing, limited ambulation, loss of fine motor coordination). This prompted much discussion on issues faced by seniors and the need for community-wide support.

— The NU-HOPE Executive Director partnered with Junior Achievement to provide coaching of Junior Achievement students.

— Students at the local Kindergarten Center explored the needs of low income seniors and Our Summer Intern Program provided the opportunity for a student at our local high school to assist at our Diamond Café, helping lead activities while learning more about the seniors who attend this congregate meal site.

— In partnership with the local 4-H, the Executive Director mentored 4-H members, assisting in the development of public speaking skills. 4-H members also assisted created centerpieces for the NU-HOPE Thanksgiving Dinner and assisted with decorating the event.

— Members of the High School Key Club joined us at our Senior Thanksgiving Dinner where they greeted, served, and interacted with our senior guests on this special day. They also assisted at our Family Fun and Education day, painting faces and helping with the set up and tear down of the event.

Leadership is a concept that is often taken for granted. However, to be effective, leaders need knowledge, compassion and awareness. Developing these leadership qualities is essential if we are to create strong communities that support the needs of all members, including its older residents.

Through the NU-HOPE Youth Leadership and Engagement Program, we strive to nurture the leaders of tomorrow by providing them with the information and skills needed to better plan for our future.

We are excited by the prospects of this inter-generational program and look forward to continuing the partnerships that make such a program possible.

Should you know of a youth group or organization that may wish to participate in the NU-HOPE Leadership and Engagement Program, or for more information, please contact NU-HOPE at (863) 382-2134.

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