We’d like to feel younger, right? If you’ve been following the hot new Younger Next Year movement, you know that one of the six ways to stop much of the decay of aging is to get out into your community and join the activity. Studies have shown that people who are engaged in their communities live years (sometimes many years) longer than those who stay isolated at home.
As one Community Education program discovered, that principle is true at the institutional level as well. “We applied the Younger Next Year concept to our entire program,” says Marianne Legg, Program Coordinator for the Community Education classes at Edmonds Community College.
“We used to have our community education offices in the center of Edmonds and were a part of many community events. Eighteen months ago, our building was sold and we moved away from downtown. We felt so isolated,” states Marianne. “We began looking for ways to put the community back into our community education program.”
As the program discovered, seeking relationships in the community rejuvenated their class offerings and they were able to give their students some unique opportunities. And students, who might not have known about the school before, discovered it through a community partner.
As bonus, the community as a whole has benefited from partnerships with the school. Take this spring’s Creating Public Art class, for example, which partners the college’s community education program with the Edmonds Arts Festival to make 4-by-8-foot banners to hang at the festival this summer.
“We were blown away that the Edmonds Arts Festival wanted to work with us,” Marianne enthuses. Every June, this world-class Festival draws around 50,000 visitors to buy art and enjoy free entertainment and great food. “Hanging your banner at this festival is major exposure for anyone interested in a career in the visual arts,” she says.
Students will be able to create their own designs under the tutelage of a nationally-recognized illustrator. They’ll produce six banners which the festival can use for years to come; so, the Festival benefits as well.
“Yes, win-win-win is our goal with these partnerships,” Marianne says. “We feel everyone comes out ahead when we all work together on mutual goals. And our students get opportunities they wouldn’t have without taking advantage of the partnership.”
The Certificate in Event Planning is being offered in conjunction with the Edmonds Arts Festival which offers on-the-job training in organizing a major community event. “This is a fun way to learn the intricate details of community event planning from people with thousands of hours of events experience,” says Marianne.
The planning that goes into putting on an event like this festival includes marketing, artist booths, volunteer management, scheduling, fundraising, a juried art exhibit, a children’s art exhibit, entertainment, catering and more.
Certificate students will be able to pick their areas of interest and work with the directors of those departments. “Because our students are not just volunteering their time but are in an active learning relationship through us, they get an experience that no one else can,” Marianne says, adding, “This really is a great opportunity!”
Marianne notes that while community education “isn’t the literal fountain of youth, it can offer a sense of real community involvement that can help keep our students younger for years to come!”
Register for these classes and more at Connect2Classes.