New Y-Serve program gives students an opportunity to serve seniors

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Students looking for different opportunities to serve the community now have the chance to participate in BYU Senior Academy and share their knowledge with the elderly in several assisted living centers.

Students can come to the Y-Serve office to find opportunities to serve, including the new program Senior Academy. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)
Students can come to the Y-Serve office to find opportunities to serve, including the new program Senior Academy. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)

BYU senior and public health major Celeste Farley was taking a health and aging class when she got the assignment to meet with elderly people who were participating in the Elder Quest program. Elder Quest gives seniors the opportunity to attend college classes and continue their education. Farley was paired up with one woman who was living in an assisted living center, but was lucky enough to have family around to help her get to classes. The woman felt that many of the activities at her assisted living home weren’t very engaging.

“She felt that a lot of the activities were for 6-year-olds,” Farley said. “Other seniors wanted to go to Elder Quest, but they didn’t have a ride. We thought it would be cool if we could get Elder Quest classes at the senior home rather than having them carpool over to the school.”

Farley wanted to organize a program that would give other seniors the chance to participate in fun and interesting classes, but rather than taking the seniors to the classes, she decided to take the classes to the seniors. Farley originally wanted to get BYU professors and teaching assistants involved, but the idea eventually changed to get students to come serve and teach lessons.

Students are encouraged to prepare a 45-minute lesson on a subject of their choice. The program also likes students to come prepared with a PowerPoint or some other type of visual presentation.

“Students can teach anything,” Farley said. “The seniors are interested in anything and are excited to learn.”

In the past, student participants have covered a variety of topics including economics, Spanish and the history of guitar.

Luke Hansen, a recent exercise science graduate from Sacramento, Calif., taught the seniors a lesson on the history of guitar.

“It was just fun, I haven’t taught people since my mission and it was nice to teach about something,” Hansen said. “You teach about something you already know and it’s pretty fun because it is something that you also enjoy.”

Besides teaching a little history, Hansen also performed for the seniors by playing a few songs on the guitar. He played songs by Elvis Presley and Gene Autry that the seniors would be familiar with.

“It was cool to see the old folks reminisce about something that they used to love,” Hansen said.

Lauren Cole, a senior majoring in economics, is one of the program directors. She sees Senior Academy as a great way for students to serve the community and a great way for the seniors to continue learning.

“I think that the seniors have really enjoyed it,” Cole said. “Every time we have gone, the rooms have been full and more people have come each time.”

Cole also pointed out that students shouldn’t let the fact that they have to prepare a lesson stop them from participating in Senior Academy. She emphasized that students shouldn’t worry about what they are going to teach, because they can teach anything that they are interested in.

“People are scared about what to teach, but honestly the seniors are interested in anything,” Cole said.

Senior Academy currently works with two assisted living centers, but they hope to expand the program soon. Students interested in Senior Academy can email . More information can be found at https://yserve.byu.edu/academy.

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