Washington University to host “Maximizing Civic Engagement of Older Adults,” an official White House Conference on Aging event, Feb. 15

St. Louis selected as one of four public forum sites nationwide; former Congressman Richard Gephardt to moderate

With the first wave of baby boomers preparing for retirement, the 2005 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) will be an important opportunity to assess aging in America and improve the lives of older Americans. St. Louis will play a significant role in shaping the discussion at the conference through “Maximizing Civic Engagement of Older Adults,” a public forum and official WHCOA event hosted by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and the Center for Aging at Washington University 9 a.m. Feb. 15 in Brown Lounge.

“We are proud that Washington University was selected as a site for a WHCOA event because of our work on productive aging,” says Nancy Morrow-Howell, Ph.D., forum organizer and professor at the School of Social Work.

“We have been studying ways to increase the engagement of older adults in volunteerism, a form of civic engagement that can make a difference in our communities. At the forum, we will present our research findings, and local leaders and volunteers will be describing innovative volunteer programs in the local community.”

During the forum, which will be conducted in the style of a legislative hearing, panelists will discuss their research and recommendations on the topics of civic engagement in older America, the future of volunteerism, and caregiving as civic engagement.

Former U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt will moderate, along with Dorcas Hardy, chair of the 2005 WHCOA Policy Committee, Bob Blancato, WHCOA Policy Committee member, and Morrow-Howell. Other distinguished guests include local civic engagement experts, service providers, and older adults.

Following the panels, there will be an opportunity for public comments, questions and participation in a survey on the topic of civic engagement. Findings from this event will be presented to the WHCOA policy committee and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) as part of a larger study, Civic Engagement in an Older America. The WHCOA will take place Oct 23-26 in Washington D.C.

The St. Louis event, part of the GSA’s Civic Engagement in an Older America Project, is one of four information and data-gathering forums nationwide. Other forums are being held in Orlando, Phoenix, and Boston.

The purpose of GSA’s civic engagement project is to determine how to promote greater civic involvement of older adults in order to improve the quality of life in communities across America.

For more information, contact Jenny Kraus-Smith at 935-7573.