Student Work - Community Studies

Document Type

Capstone Project


Introduction: With age, older adults may face increasing challenges to community recreational participation. This is usually not for the lack of programming, rather, it may be the result of older adults not finding the programming to be as meaningful. Among other issues, there may be little to no opportunity for self-determination (defined as, having a perceived sense of control over one’s environment), which has been shown to be a critical factor for successful aging. Older adults are usually not at the center of the process; programs are instead primarily driven by the needs of the organization. Community recreational facilities, such as senior centers and the YMCA (Y) aiming to build healthy communities, can alter their approach to include older adults in the program development and evaluation process. The present study implemented a community engagement approach to empower older adult participants of the 55+ Day Program at the Bostwick Y and sought to better understand their perspective of the programming, along with the perspective of the service providers for determination of feasibility. The Y may use this feedback to create a more meaningful and sustainable program going forward. Methods: Since mixed-methods were employed this helped to obtain a well-rounded and accurate perspective of 55+ Day. This included, conducting questionnaires (n=30) and a focus group (n=12) with the older adult participants, as well as interviews with the facility staff (n=2). Results and Discussion: Although both participants and staff largely appreciated the programming on offer, they also identified improvements that can be made to the program structure, scheduling, and adaptability, to further enhance the experience of 55+ Day for the participants. Moving forward, the Y, and other community facilities can directly engage both participants and staff in the development of the programming and ensure a more efficient use of time and resources.

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