Since Winter 2014, Own the Boards staff members have been designing LifeWords Literature Seminars – a literature pilot program – that will serve older adults in the Greater Knoxville area. This lifelong learning initiative represents a local facet of our broader mission. Hired instructors will work directly with retirement community residents to help them engage with literature through independent reading, group discussion, and the memorization and performance of literature.
Even further, the program’s components align with those recommended in studies on cognitive aging. We want to help residents engage with literature as a means of staying sharp, maintaining a high quality of life, and creating a meaningful literary legacy. Participants will muse over complex texts, talk about them with peers, and relate them to life events. They’ll also select pieces of literature that are meaningful to them, memorize them, and perform them. These performances speak to the participants’ passions, to what matters in their lives, and recorded performances serve as a means of archiving and sharing those sentiments.
In Spring 2015, we partnered with Sherrill Hills Retirement Community, in Knoxville, TN, to further develop this program and will begin the pilot seminars in August 2015. Our goal after the pilot seminars is to make LifeWords Literature Seminars available to other interested retirement communities in the Greater Knoxville area, starting in Fall 2016.