May 10, 2011

Workshop's focus is generations working together

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A workshop next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will focus on ways that generations whose experiences range from the Depression and World War II through 9/11 can work together in their communities.

“How Generations Can Work Together” is from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday, May 16, in the SIU School of Law courtroom in the Hiram H. Lesar Building.

SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng and John A. Logan President Robert Mees will convene the workshop, which includes a panel discussion followed by small group discussions on topics that center on technology, health, service learning, and staying active.

The goal is for participants to come up with five to 10 “action steps” that will benefit the wide spectrum of groups -- from enhancing students’ academic performances, to setting the course toward a successful retirement, to connecting the various generations, said Jane Angelis. director of the Intergenerational Initiative at the law school’s Center for Health Law and Policy.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographer and camera crews are welcome to cover the conference. To make arrangements for interviews or for more information, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communications and outreach, at 618/453-8700.

The conference is free, although advance registration is preferred. To register, contact Katelyn Kooy at the Center for Health Law and Policy at 453-8730 or by email at

The conference is open to everyone with a focus on retirees or those who will soon retire, educators ranging from pre-school to college and beyond, human service providers, residents and students, Angelis said.

Technology, health, service learning and staying active “are issues that face all generations,” Angelis said.

David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, will moderate the panel discussion. Panelists representing the various generations include Cheng, Mees, Cynthia Sims, an assistant professor in SIUC’s Workforce Education and Development program, and Kevin Winstead, a master’s student in sociology at SIUC. Sims is a commissioner with “Serve Illinois,” a bipartisan commission appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to focus on volunteerism and community service.

“We want people to come together and offer specific ideas for things people can do to take advantage of the assets older Americans have,” Yepsen said. “Too often seniors are just pushed aside or put on a shelf in our society and we can no longer afford to do that. They have talents and abilities we need to harness.”

The conference is designed for participants to offer ideas, Yepsen said.

“All of us working on the session want ideas for action. It’s not enough to just come together and suggest the state or federal government spend money or do something,” he said. “What can we do as individuals? What can we do in our communities? Lots of people are already doing things so I hope people can share their success stories with each other and learn a few new ones as well.”

The first 45 minutes will consist of the panel discussion, followed by breakout sessions to discuss the four focus areas. The small groups will present their ideas to the entire audience, which then decides the “action steps” that people can take.

Those could include such ideas as tutoring and mentoring in schools and community service projects, Angelis said.

The group discussion leaders are Sims, Juliane Wallace, an associate professor in kinesiology at SIUC; Rex Duncan, director of community development and outreach, with SIUC’s Office of Economic and Regional Development; and Miriam Link-Mullison, Jackson County Health Department administrator.

Katelyn Kooy, one of the event organizers, will graduate from the SIU School of Law on Saturday. It is important for conference participants to determine their community’s needs, ways to address them, and come away with specific plans “that can have an impact,” she said.

Kooy said it is important for students her age, commonly referred to as “Generation Y,” to realize what they can do in helping their community with their insight and energy.

The forum will also allow participants to not only make new connections with others, but also enable them to realize what they can do within their communities, Angelis said.

A common issue is that many people, whether they are senior citizens or young people, have “incredible talent, but they don’t see themselves as talented and believe no one would be interested in what they are able to do,” she said..