AgeWell Collaboratory Funded Seven Pilot Grants Across Drexel Community
April 22, 2022
In January 2022, the AgeWell Collaboratory at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions funded seven $10,000 pilot grants within the Drexel community to advance our commitment to being an Age-Friendly University. The University received an Age-Friendly University designation in 2019, which is based on 10 principles that reflect our commitment to embracing generational diversity; disrupting ageism; fostering intergenerational connectivity; innovating through age-related research; and understanding the intersectionality of aging, race, ethnicity and health disparities. Each of the inaugural projects below support these essential elements of our Age-Friendly University and will be completed in one year.
The Age-friendly Ross Commons Audit is being led by Rachel Wenrick, PhD, founding director, Writers Room and associate teaching professor of English; and D. S. Nicholas, NCIDQ, associate professor, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design; director MS Design Research. The project launched on April 15, 2022 with a design charrette aimed at identifying, evaluating and planning improvements needed to ensure that Ross Commons (Writers Room’s home for public programming and the anchor of Second Story Collective) is an age-friendly building. Attendees included, members of the Drexel and West Philadelphia communities, students and alumni, faculty and staff, retirees, and even a neighboring business. The grant funds will be utilized to fund select improvements.
A Novel Community-based Participatory Design Side-by-Side Course with Older Asian Adults is being led by June He, IDSA, assistant professor, Product Design, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, in collaboration with Catherine Quay MSN, RN-BC, CNE, assistant clinical professor, Undergraduate Nursing, College of Nursing and Health Professions. The course will bring together Drexel students of all ages and members of Philadelphia’s older-adult Asian community to develop age-friendly products that are human-centered and inclusive. The process and products will be displayed in a public venue and will contribute to the development of a new Drexel Empathetic Co-Design Lab, which aims to foster participatory design work with diverse communities.
Life is Beautiful 2.0: Proof of Concept for Drexel’s New Lifelong Learning Program is being led by Kena Sears-Brown, MBA, director, Continuing Professional Education & Workforce Initiatives, Goodwin College of Professional Studies; Ken Bingham, MA, teaching professor, English, College of Arts and Sciences; and Nikki Bromberg, MSW, associate director, Alumni Relations, Institutional Advancement. Life is Beautiful is an undergraduate university course that connects students to hospice patients or other older adults in students’ lives to write their life stories. Life is Beautiful 2.0 is a pilot project that will bring this novel program to an adult learner audience. This aligns with Drexel’s new Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning strategic goal.
Revealing and Reducing “Invisible” Boundaries: Conducting an Equity Audit of Access and Inclusion to Drexel Health, Wellness and Recreation Programs for Older Adult Promise Neighborhood Community Members is being led by Stephanie Smith Budhai, PhD, associate clinical professor, School of Education and faculty fellow, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement; Carrie Hutnick, MEd, associate director for Community-Based Learning, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement; and Cameron Kiosoglous, PhD, assistant clinical professor, School of Education. This project will focus on conducting an equity audit of Drexel’s existing portfolio of health, wellness and recreation programs. Equipped with this information, the team aims to improve the alignment of existing programs to meet the specific needs and diverse interests of older adults who live within the West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood.
Seeking Digital Equity for Older Adults through a Novel Tech Ambassador Program is being led by the ExCITe Center’s Director, Youngmoo Kim, PhD, professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Andy Stutzman, project director for Civic Technology; and Lauren Sato, AmeriCorps VISTA for Digital Inclusion. The project seeks to address the digital divide for older adults in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone through a tech ambassador program staffed by Drexel students, staff and community members. Through this program, older adults will receive a tablet computer, assistance with free Internet access and 1-on-1 training using Generations on Line tutorials. The program will provide valuable tech and customer service skills training to Drexel students and local community members.
Virtual Shoes: Using Virtual Reality to Enhance Safety and Foster Better Design for Older Adults in the Built Environment is being led by Donald McEachron, PhD, teaching professor, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; Adam Zahn, MS, director, Global Engagement, Office of Global Engagement; Eugenia Victoria Ellis, PhD, AIA, associate professor emerita, College of Engineering & Westphal College of Media Arts & Design; and Nicholas Jushchyshyn, MFA, program director, Virtual Reality & Immersive Media, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The project is an international, intergenerational, virtual exchange that will begin at Drexel and proceed to the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. It will utilize virtual reality to allow older and younger adults to experience each other’s perceptual environments, enhance navigational skills and improve architectural design. This project will allow each generation to walk in each other's shoes for the betterment of all.
The West Philadelphia Community Archivists: An Age-Friendly Participatory Heritage Project is being led by L Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD, associate professor, Urban Education, and director, Justice-oriented Youth (JoY) Education Lab in the School of Education. In partnership with West Philadelphia High School (WPHS), this effort brings together Drexel faculty and students, WPHS current students and older adult members of the WPHS Alumni Association to participate in a community-led participatory heritage project. As the West Philadelphia African American community contends with the impacts of gentrification, residential displacement and community change, this project will contribute to the preservation of the rich legacy of the city of Philadelphia’s first high school west of the Schuylkill River, dating back to 1912.