Engage with Age: A Partnership That’s Inspiring Us All

Engage With Age (EWA), a two-year program and partnership between Southminster, UNC Charlotte, and Renaissance West Community Initiative (RWCI), has helped to promote successful aging and development across the lifespan for seniors living in The Retreat at RWCI. The program is designed to provide engaging activities to foster intergenerational interactions, increase socialization, improve health and wellness literacy, and provide information about community services and resources for adults in the village. RWCI Director of Neighborhood Engagement, Detrina Little, recently shared that during the program’s operation, EWA amplified intergenerational interactions, programming, and social activities for the seniors, thereby establishing a sense of community within the building. 

Southminster has continued its support and connection of The Retreat with our community despite the program’s conclusion, earlier this year. Through its efforts to bring resources into the neighborhood for seniors, Southminster has shared immense support through the following three pillars: Healthy Living, Lifestyle and Leadership Development, and Intergenerational Programming. To increase leadership development, Southminster implemented the appointment of floor captains on each floor of the building, giving responsibility to one senior to distribute information about programming taking place in The Retreat, and being a resource for those on their floor. The seniors enjoy various activities such as Fun Bags that offer exercises to increase community engagement. During the early months of the pandemic, Southminster created a food pantry and toiletries drive to sustain the ongoing needs of the seniors.

According to Detrina, the partnership has had a positive influence on everyone in The Retreat, including herself. There are significantly more social activities and opportunities available for the seniors to create greater autonomy, and the social climate of the building is now positively vibrant. The seniors are considerably more aware of various leadership styles and continue to have their basic needs met. Many of the seniors look forward to creating a podcast together to share wisdom and advice in the future.

Detrina acknowledges that working with Southminster has brought greater awareness surrounding the needs of the senior population. They are experiencing a lack of resources and it takes a daily collaborative effort in order to meet the demand that is needed. Witnessing this partnership with Southminster has been a journey, and it will continue as it expands into a long-term devotion to change the lives of seniors in The Renaissance and around Charlotte.