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California State University, Long Beach
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President's Corner

OLLI at CSULB is connected to our community in a variety of ways. I want to focus on one—the development of an “age-friendly” action plan. The idea behind it is to ensure that older residents are able to live full and meaningful lives. For some context, in Long Beach, 25% of our population is age 50 or above, and 9% is age 65 or above. OLLI at CSULB is an active member of the group working to ensure our city meets the needs of seniors throughout the community. Our Executive Director, Dr. Barbara White, is a member of the steering committee for this important effort.
In order to move forward efficiently, the city has established working groups, focusing on key areas identified in a needs assessment. The groups are:
• Health • Transportation
• Safety • Quality of Life.
(The steering committee recognized that housing is an important issue for many older Long Beach residents, but the city has another initiative dealing with housing.)
Dr. White is a member of the Health working group, and I serve on the Quality of Life working group. One contributor to age-related decline is social isolation. OLLI is
a perfect organization for combating such isolation. Our programs offer intellectual stimulation, recreational opportunities, social interaction, and the chance to develop new skills.
So far, the Quality of Life working group has mapped the activities that foster a positive quality of life. Our next step is to determine who is participating in those activities. Fortunately, OLLI at CSULB already has data from our member survey. In fact, the other members of the working groups plan to use our survey as a model,
altering it to reflect the mission of the organization.
Once we have a good sense of what is already happening, we will move to the policy level, asking “What can we do to encourage collaboration among these groups to serve seniors better?” That phase will be the hard part. Before I retired, I conducted a few studies of partnerships. Two key findings were that if true partnerships were to take place, there had to be a common vision and commitment
to achieving a goal, and some (most?) organizations had to change some policies. I think the age-friendly city steering committee and working groups are clear on the first—and now the hard work begins to make changes.


From the Executive Director

By Dr. Barbara White

Lifelong learning can occur almost anywhere: at a senior center, in a retirement community, a church, or in a storefront. It can also be self-directed learning at a library or on a computer. The vision of Bernard Osher
(founder of the Osher Foundation, which provides us significant financial support) was to establish OLLIs in association with a university or college. OLLI at CSULB reaps many benefits from that association.
We operate in an academic setting with opportunities to immerse ourselves in campus life. We also act as a learning lab for future generations. To those points, during our spring 2019 session OLLI members had a repeat opportunity to be discussants in a gerontology course that looked at aging issues through the eyes of the TV show “Golden Girls” and our members’ real life experiences.
Members also registered for the OLLI class Pickleball Interactive that was offered as part of a Recreation and  Leisure Studies course. This class paired OLLI members with Recreation Therapy students and instructors to learn and play the game (see the article and letter to the Editor from an OLLI member). Everyone had fun, and learned how to work and play together. This likely broke some young students’
stereotypes of senior adults!
         Also, our newest OLLI location at American Gold Star Manor offered an activity class with a research component in balance and fall prevention. Under the guidance of CSULB faculty, students taught the class, monitored participants to assure safety and collected data (see article and photos in this issue). If that was not enough, OLLI members were invited to a graduate level Social Work course for a panel discussion about personal experiences with aging.
OLLI members also give generously of their time and experience to support
student and faculty research in a variety of other areas. Each of these provides OLLI members with the opportunity to be involved in the education of our future professionals. If you’d like to be further involved with students, let us know!