Ready for some good news? A new study has found a simple way to stay and feel young at heart — just get involved with helping young people. At least that’s the case with the older adults taking part in The Experience Corps, an award-winning national program that utilizes seniors to tutor children in inner-city communities in 23 cities across the United States. The 2,000 Experience Corps members tutor and mentor, providing literacy coaching, homework help, consistent role models and committed, caring attention.
Here’s what research is revealing in regards to the health benefits arising from the participation in Experience Corps:
Compared with adults of similar age, demographics and volunteer history, Experience Corps tutors reported improvements in mental health and physical functioning (including mobility, stamina and flexibility) and maintained overall health longer. In addition, Experience Corps members reported more physical activity, larger social networks and higher self-esteem as a result of their participation.
Their efforts seem to be working, too. Research from Washington University in St. Louis shows significant gains in students’ reading skills as a result of the program:
Over a single school year, students with Experience Corps tutors made over 60 percent more progress in learning two critical reading skills – sounding out new words and reading comprehension – than similar students not served by the program.
I love this whole concept. My dad will be 77 this year and he teaches high school full-time. It was a second career for him after 35 years in retail. Though his degree isn’t in education, he was hired largely on the basis of his experience, both professional and life. His job has brought countless benefits to him and he was so fortunate that someone valued his experience at the right time and place.
Find out more about the Experience Corps program through this video:
- Elizabeth Thielke