There is a saying the 50 is the new 40. Advances in health care, nutrition, and lifestyle allows us to live longer. Today’s organization is promoting successful aging for those over the age of 50.
In 1982, Marylen Mann took a tour of St Louis senior centers with Father Lucious Cervantes, the St Louis Commissioner of Aging at the time. The centers were meeting the important basic needs but Mann saw a world of potential. She mentioned to Father Cervantes, “we can do better for older adults” and with that OASIS (Older Adult Service and Information System) was born. The first OASIS centers were opened in 1982 with a two year grant from the US Administration on Aging. Over 300 people attended the launch and to register for their first programs. In the beginning, there was misunderstanding of what the older people could do. Today there is a great respect for what 50+ adults can offer and more ways for them to get involved in their communities.
OASIS is headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, but provides programs across the Unites States. They promote successful aging through a three-fold approach: lifelong learning, healthy living, and social engagement. OASIS is currently active in 40 cities in 24 states and serves more than 56,000 individuals each year.
Karen Larkin has taken the mission of OASIS to heart. After retiring from her job as superintendent with the Tucson Parks & Recreation Department, Karen took advantage of the courses that OASIS offered on history, beading, and exercise. She has met new people and learned things in the process.
OASIS is not just about classes for retired adults. They connect generations through intergenerational tutoring and their CATCH Healthy Habits program. The tutoring program connects 50+ adults who have time during the day with children in kindergarten through fourth grade to work one-on-one each week as their tutors, mentors, and friends. The tutoring program is currently in 105 school districts. The CATCH Healthy Habits program brings children and adults age 50+ together to learn good eating and physical activity habits for a lifetime. Over 1,000 children and 200 adults have participated in the CATCH program to combat obesity. The program has helped children participants eat more fruits and vegetables, increase their knowledge of nutrition, increase their physical activity, and decrease their screen time. At the same time, the adults in the program reported a 71% increase in their physical activity.
How can you become involved?
- If you are over 50, you can find a class near you on their website and sign up. You could also sign up for the tutoring or healthy habits program.
- Volunteers are also needed to teach classes since 49% of their classes are taught by volunteer instructors. You can learn more on their website.
- You can also make a donation to the OASIS organization on their website.