Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Area Agency on Aging Region 9 Works to Create a More Age-Sensitive and Friendly Culture

Learn how a AAA partnered with a local college to provide age-sensitivity training to high school and college students, helping to bridge generational gaps and increase sensitivity to the community's older adults.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Area Agency on Aging Region 9's Intergenerational Sensitivity to Aging program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Intergenerational Programs category.
The Area Agency on Aging Region 9 partners with Zane State College to provide training for local high school and college students to bridge generational gaps, break down stereotypes and increase sensitivity to the community's population of older adults. Students in Zane State's Social Work Assistant program practicum are trained by Area Agency on Aging Region 9 staff on the AgePlay course and then present the programming to local high school and college students.

Multiple classes of college and high school students have participated in and been impacted by the program. The impact of the program has also been felt among those students' teachers, professors, faculty members and families. The program has helped create a more age-sensitive and friendly culture within Area Agency on Aging Region 9's community that will continue far into the future.

Participants enjoy the hands-on approach to the program and find it engaging and interactive. Participating college students have commented how eye-opening the program was for them, and that delivering the program to high school students helped put the level of ageism society has into real perspective. Participating high school students have shared that the program enhanced their level of understanding of their own age bias and helped them feel more informed about the aging process.

For other AAAs interested in offering age-sensitivity training in their communities, Area Agency on Aging Region 9 encourages AAAs to first seek out or prepare a sensitivity program, like AgePlay, and then build partnerships with local schools to facilitate delivery. With low costs and limited staff time required, this program can be easily replicated and has a far-reaching impact.

To learn more about the Area Agency on Aging Region 9's Intergenerational Sensitivity to Aging program, contact Valerie Sampson, ADRN Director, at
For more information about the 2019 winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community! You can also listen to our four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs. Also keep your eye out for our February opening of the submissions process for the 2020 AIA Awards.



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2024 winners!