News
High school students receive 2017 MIT AgeLab OMEGA Scholarships for work with elders

Students recognized for their leadership in fostering intergenerational connections within their communities.

On July 19, the MIT Age Lab, in partnership with the New England University Transportation Center and the AARP, presented the second annual OMEGA Scholarship awards to three accomplished young adults from the Boston area. Caroline Collins-Pisano of Noble and Greenough School in Dedham; Ella Houlihan of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, and Anna Neumann of Newton South High School in Newton were each awarded a 2017 OMEGA Scholarship, which recognizes young people who work to foster intergenerational connections within their communities.

All three winners are leaders in school organizations that promote social connectivity between older adults and youth. Collins-Pisano is a founder of the Golden Dawgs, which organizes events including concerts, theatrical performances, and classes both at Noble and Greenough and local senior centers. Neumann is a cofounder of Crossing Generations at Newton South, which plans intergenerational social events, conducts oral history interviews with veterans, and organizes opportunities for young people to learn more about global aging trends. And Houlihan is a student leader of the Lincoln-Sudbury chapter of Bridges Together, which hosts an ongoing group of older adults for discussions and activities focused around a particular theme, such as resilience.

“While social isolation is profoundly personal, it has powerful public implications” said Joseph Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab. “Whether it’s saying hello to the older person who lives three doors over from you, or organizing an intergenerational field trip for an ice cream cone, it is the smallest human acts that bring neighborhoods, communities, and generations together.” Michael E. Festa, director of AARP Massachusetts, said, “Disrupting aging starts with younger people. This is about every generation in a community learning to grow old together.”

The OMEGA awards were presented at MIT’s Samberg Conference Center before the recipients’ parents and teachers, members of state nonprofit and government organizations, representatives from the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Aging, MIT AgeLab researchers, and the AgeLab’s 85-plus Lifestyle Leaders Panel. The OMEGA Scholarships will provide $1,000 toward each recipient’s college tuition and an additional $1,000 to each recipient’s school to continue these outstanding intergenerational efforts.

OMEGA, which stands for Opportunities for Multigenerational Engagement, Growth, and Action, was created by the MIT AgeLab to support the development and growth of student programs and clubs that connect high school students with older adults. The MIT AgeLab is a multidisciplinary research program that works with business, government, and nongovernmental organizations to improve the quality of life of older people and those who care for them. AgeLab offers the OMEGA Scholarship with AARP and the U.S. Department of Transportation-sponsored New England University Transportation Center.

Story originally published August 1, 2017 by Christine Adams, Center for Transportation and Logistics for MIT News.