Youth and older adults are the most valuable sources of community volunteerism in the United States today. An important part of involving youth in service to others has been the proliferation and sophistication of service-learning programs that provide opportunities for meaningful engagement and reflection. Increasingly, service learning is recognized as an integral part of both community involvement and education, and youth are provided with growing opportunities to combine practice and knowledge. As this movement has developed, however, older adult volunteers have been largely excluded. Despite theory and observation that demonstrates older adults’ desire to stay engaged in learning and service, programs providing them with structured opportunities are rare. After outlining the development and expansion of service-learning programs for youth in the United States, this paper asks the question, “Why not service learning for elders,” analyzes some of the potential benefits of institutionalizing such an approach, and highlights promising efforts in the field.
Project: Service with Older Adults
Carden, M. (2001). Service learning and older adults (CSD Policy Report No. 01-14). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.