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University of Murcia
University of Murcia
Avda. Teniente Flomesta, 5 · 30003 · Murcia
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International
Universidad de Murcia
collectifs_d_unitiativesEUniWell - SEED FUNDING CALL

Age-Friendly Universities in EUniwell.

In our present society people are living longer, leading to considerable changes in the age distribution of the population. The increment of the percentage of older adults in Europe may pose important challenges but also many opportunities. The age-friendly movement has appeared as a natural response to the constantly growing aging population. In this context, the World Health Organization has launched the programme: “Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities” to orientate and invite cities and communities, all around the world, to become more age-friendly, by identifying the barriers to the well-being of older adults. Despite this situation, and in general terms, university students and staff have few opportunities to interact with older people, gain knowledge about aging or sharing life experiencies and interests. At the same time, Higher Education Institutions should be prepared to receive more older adults looking for professional development, undergraduate or postgraduate courses; or just for enjoying cultural, art or sport activities organized by the universities. In order to change the existing culture in the academic enviroment and move forward towards more inclusive and age-friendly university the Age-Friendly University [AFU] initiative was created. This initiative offers institutions an appropiate scheme for developing programmes to address these issues. The AFU initiative reflects the work of an international, cross-disciplinary, team assembled by Dublin City University [Ireland] that identified 10 principles that can be used to assess and implement age-friendly programmes and policies. These principles reflect six pillars of institutional activity: 1) teaching and learning; 2) research and innovation; 3) lifelong learning; 4) intergenerational learning, 5) encore careers and enterprise, and 6) civic engagement. Younger and older adults working together, living together, studying together, to co-create a better society. The United Nations defines a society for all ages as one that “enables the generations to invest in one another and share in the fruits of that investment, guided by the twin principles of reciprocity and equity”. Let´s do it. EUniwell can do it.

Contexte

The School of Health and Social Sciences [Lorca Campus] at the University of Murcia [Spain] offers different undergraduate courses in: 1) General Nursing; 2) Human Nutrition and Dietetics; and 3) Occupational Therapy. In addition, we have a University Chair of Gerontology, supported by Fundación Poncemar, that values the relevance of contributing to research on aging by developing agendas that take into consideration older adults´diverse needs. Also, in collaboration with the municipal corporation of the city of Lorca, the University Chair of Gerontology is involved in the The Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Project of the World Health Organization; with the main goal that the city of Lorca becomes an age- friendly city. 


We are members of the Age-Friendly University Global Network. We are the first Spanish university, and a few in Europe, to be part of this important International Network. https://www.dcu.ie/agefriendly/age-friendly-members

Our School has a strong collaboration with local and regional governments and with non-profit organizations as Fundación Poncemar that has allowed the opening of  an Older Adults Day Care Center, with state-of-the-art facilities that combines the assistance and caring of older adults (ground floor) with teaching and research areas with facilities such as: smart apartment, multisensory room environment or rehabilitation and biomedical labs (first floor), becoming a very modern and novel  University Older Adults Day Care Center. Additionally, on the ground floor there is a children´s play area where residents, visitors, students and faculty participate in planned activity programmes with children, bringing intergenerational groups together. We also have an outdoor bowling green, an urban orchard-garden, and a teaching innovation group focused on bringing older and younger students together around topics of common educational interest. 

In this scenario, all the activities are designed in a way that encourages older and younger adults, including students, to get together and share experiences in a significant way; building social bonds and promoting healthy ageing and understanding across generations.

It would be extraordinary to have the opportunity to talk to other partners and universities in EUniwell to share these initiatives and improve the quality of life of older adults and the whole community.


Objectifs visés

We propose the creation of Age-Friendly University working groups in every university/partner. The composition of the working group should have, at least, one member of the following categories: 1) Researchers, Lecturers and Professors; 2) Students; 3) Administrative Officers; 4) Representatives of university´s own retired community; 5) Representatives of the local aging community [associations, municipalities, non-profit organizations……], outside of the university.


The main goal of the working groups is to investigate and evaluate the potential of their own universities to become more age-friendly, through the analysis of the ten principles proposed by Age-Friendly University Initiative. [Please, find the ten principles of AFU in the following link: https://www.dcu.ie/agefriendly/principles-age-friendly-university]


Along the one-year project, several online meetings will be arranged to discuss and share information.


Finally, we propose the organization of a Summer School where all the ideas, programmes, limitations and policies will be presented.


Démarche mise en œuvre

With this procedure we are looking for partners interested in incorporating older adults in all the principal activities of the university and leading a cultural change to transform universities in more age-friendly institutions.


Ressources mobilisées

The Summer School will be held in the School of Health and Social Sciences. Lorca campus. University of Murcia [Spain]: In different venues: 1) Main Hall; 2) University Older Adults Day Care Center; 3) Outdoor bowling green; 4) Ecological urban orchard garden and main garden; 5) Chair of gerontology building. 


The Summer School would have the assistance and help of all the students, researchers, professors, administrative officers of our School and the support of the local and regional governments, Fundación Poncemar, the local aging community and the affiliated university hospital.


Bilan et perspectives

Our perspective is that universities can play a crucial and decisive role on public opinion to appreciate the longevity dividend and the value that aging and age-diversity bring to society, preventing age discrimination.

Porteur de l'initiative

Iyú Espinosa David