Rollins Wins International Award for Lifelong Learning Program

December 13, 2011

Assistant Professor of Physics Christopher Fuse

Assistant Professor of Physics Christopher Fuse (right) demonstrates a Van de Graaff generator for Mayflower residents Patrick Perrott and Annette Rosch during a physics class.

Rollins College and The Mayflower Retirement Community recently received the International Council on Active Aging’s “Industry Innovator Award” for their collaborative lifelong learning partnership, “Live and Learn.” With only five honorees this year worldwide, the award highlights innovations that lead the way, set new standards and make a difference in the lives of older adults.

Taking into account the interests and intellectual curiosity of Mayflower residents, as well as the service-learning component that is part of the Rollins mission, “Live and Learn” features relevant, hands-on educational experiences in small-group sessions with no more than 12 participants. Taught by Rollins faculty and staff, classes cover subjects ranging from art, theater and writing to history, physics and environmental sciences. The program differs from other retirement community/university affiliations because of its focus on immersion in the subject matter, interactivity and small teacher-to-student ratio.

Micki Meyer and Jana Ricci

Rollins Director of Community Engagement Micki Meyer (left) worked closely with Jana Ricci (Class of 1980), director of marketing at the Mayflower, to implement the Live and Learn program.

“A key component to healthy aging is continually challenging and stimulating the brain,” said Mayflower marketing director Jana Ricci (Class of 1980), a Rollins alumna who was instrumental in launching this program. “We strongly believe that passion for learning knows no age boundaries – and that is how the concept for ‘Live and Learn’ evolved. We are honored by this prestigious award and look forward to building upon the success of this initiative.”

“This is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Micki Meyer, director of community engagement at Rollins. “We don’t have a lot of opportunities for intergenerational learning in our culture because we segment ourselves – and we’re missing out. This is an enriching experience for both the students and the seniors, because they’re serving as peers and mentors to each other.”

The Mayflower/Rollins enrichment series now offers 10 courses, some of which run for a full semester and even have a waiting list. Although the older adults don’t receive credits for the courses, they benefit from the mental stimulation of intergenerational learning, which has been proven to enhance “brain fitness.”

“As an institution that celebrates lifelong learning, Rollins is excited about the future of our relationship with The Mayflower,” said Lewis M. Duncan, president of the College. “It provides our community with greater opportunities for thoughtful discourse, intellectually stimulating seminars and shared appreciation of the arts.”

The award was presented at the International Council on Active Aging’s annual conference, which was held at the Orange County Convention Center.

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