Building on the success of Aging Matters, an educational program launched in March 2011 to teach organizations serving older adults how to better connect with the media, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) has approved up to $20,000 to fund a mini-grant program for Aging Matters graduates for continuing education and related resources.
The grant was made to the Senior Resource Alliance which will issue the mini-grants.
Under the new program, approved through the foundation’s Older Adults Work Group, organizations that participated in Aging Matters can apply for up to $1,000 each for additional education as well as tools and resources like photo or video equipment; enrollment in webinars and classes; and production of press kit materials.
“We believe this additional investment will build upon the solid foundation participants received from this educational program and really help put into practice all that they learned,” said Diana Silvey, WPHF Program Director-Older Adults.
Aging Matters is an eight-month educational program developed by the Orange County Commission on Aging with financial support from WPHF. The program was designed for organizations serving older adults that wanted to learn how to communicate effectively and develop relationships with the media. It is hoped that by doing so, the media will cover more stories about aging and raise awareness in the community.
The inaugural program was launched in March 2011 with representatives from 32 organizations. For one morning per month, participants were instructed by local media and public relations experts who volunteered their time to cover a variety of topics. Some of the sessions included an overview of the media landscape and insights on how different types of media outlets operate, writing for the media, crisis communication and tips for interviewing with the media. In the final session, each participant had the chance to pitch a story to professionals from television, magazines, as well as local and regional newspapers.
During that final session, all participants were very nervous as they made their pitches. It was nice to see their tension subside as they heard constructive feedback from the media that truly focused on how to tell a better story—one that would be more interesting and have a better chance of being covered. Likewise, the media people learned a lot about new programs in our community and were pleased to be a part of the experience. It was a win-win for everyone.” said Ms. Silvey.
In their evaluations, participants affirmed the program was extremely beneficial. One measurement of success being used by the Orange County Office on Aging is the number of stories covered by the media. It is also hoped the program has strengthened the aging network as participants from a variety of organizations worked side by side over their eight months together. Although the class has now graduated, many of these bonds will continue because of the strong relationships that have developed, Ms. Silvey said.
Given the success of this first Aging Matters program, it is anticipated the Commission on Aging will offer it again in 2012.