Mar 6, 2008    #010
Contact: Angela Turner

Old age admired in children’s essay contest

University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) gerontology students have joined a local branch of the Older Women’s League (OWL) to sponsor the first local service-learning project of its kind at University Academy.

Sixty-five fifth-graders at the K-12 college preparatory charter public school wrote essays about influential older adults in their lives. The purpose of the essay contest was to raise awareness among young people about the contributions of older people in their lives and the value of these relationships.

Top essay winners will receive awards at an assembly on Wednesday, March 12, at 2 p.m. at the University Academy, 6801 Holmes Road. The first-, second- and third-place winners will have a chance to invite the subjects of their essays to the assembly and read their essays aloud.

UMKC’s Sigma Phi Omega – a national gerontology honor society that includes current and former students – and OWL have selected three top essays and nine honorable mentions.

The group judged the essays for originality and creativity, clarity of ideas and content related to meaningful relationships with older adults. Students will be notified in advance that they are winners, but they won’t know where they placed until the announcement at the assembly.

Students shared fond memories of their grandparents, neighbors and other relatives, all who had to be at least 50 years old as a contest guideline. One student wrote of Grandma Frankie, “the coolest 66-year-old” around, who liked to tell jokes and could cha-cha on the dance floor with the best of them.

“In a graying society, today’s youth will need to care for aging parents, work with older adults and adopt a healthy lifestyle to ensure their own successful aging,” said Linda Breytspraak, director of UMKC’s Center on Aging Studies. “Developing positive attitudes in childhood about older adults could go a long way in combating negative stereotypes of aging in the future.”

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences and urban engagement.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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