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Wesley U Leading Age Award Submission Video

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Wesley Des Moines is proud to nominate Wesley U for the Leading - Edge Care and Services Award. Wesley U is a continuing education program for lifelong learners provided by Wesley Des Moines free of charge in partnership with Highline Community College and the Des Moines Activity Center. Designed for meaningful learning, interaction, and personal growth, Wesley U’s classes offer engaging learning experiences for residents as well as members of the community, and the program embodies the qualities recognized by the Leading - Edge Care and Services Award.

We can trace Wesley U’s roots back to 2014 and the formation of the LIFE Program - “Learning Is ForEver.” A group of residents and staff sensed a need for educational activities that would engage, inform, and entertain, and together they worked to create the syllabus and course descriptions for the first quarter of LIFE Program classes which officially began in Fall 2014.

The LIFE Program was a success; classes were well-attended, and it was apparent that the program needed to grow.

In Summer 2016, the LIFE Program committee hired a part-time LIFE Program Coordinator who more than doubled the number of available courses, hired new instructors (with pay increases for them), and garnered funding support from the Wesley Homes Foundation. In early 2017, the LIFE Program was renamed “Wesley U” to further emphasize the educational value of the program. As part of the Resident Engagement Department, Wesley U continues to contribute significantly to the quality of life of our residents.

Classes cover a broad range of subjects, and new courses are added every quarter. Some classes include hands-on opportunities for experiential learning such as the Watercolors course where we learn about art while creating watercolor paintings. The Easy Make & Take Clay Art course involves crafting and creating our own clay sculptures. The Art-Science Connection course provides a several-week look at the many ways that art and science intersect, and attendees use science to create art they can take home with them. These unique hands-on experiences are great opportunities for residents and members of the community to come together and learn about the world around them in new and fun ways.

In addition to creative and artistic courses, Wesley U also offers many lecture and discussion-based courses designed to stimulate learning by facilitating discussion between people of all backgrounds. Our most popular discussion course is the Great Decisions Discussion Group, a program by the Foreign Policy Association that helps inform attendees while facilitating thoughtful discussion of current events.

“The thing I like about it is the community members that come in,” said Wesley Des Moines resident Carol Mohler. “Because it’s not just residents talking to themselves.” Before moving to Wesley Des Moines, Carol participated in a different Great Decisions Discussion Group. Carol found the Wesley U group more engaging, and she found herself making meaningful connections with residents and other attendees.

These human connections are vital to our overall quality of life, and Wesley U’s group-based classes facilitate these connections. Many of Wesley U’s classes revolve around discussion and the interpersonal relationships that naturally develop. With Wesley U’s ample opportunity for personal connection, residents and neighbors find their spirits nourished and their lives enriched.

Carol is a regular Wesley U attendee, and she has even taught a few Wesley U courses herself. In November 2018 Carol taught a class about how to play American Mahjong. “The first session was great - we had a waiting list!” she said, smiling.

Another Wesley Des Moines resident, Nancy Robertson, was first introduced to Wesley Des Moines through the Wesley U program. While she was living elsewhere, Nancy attended Wesley U classes. She gravitated toward art and history classes, and she was hooked.

“To me, this is probably the most important thing at Wesley,” Nancy said. “I love the classes! I love learning, and I learn things all the time!”

Carol, Nancy, and many others were first introduced to the Wesley community by attending Wesley U courses, some of which take place off-campus and involve field trips to places like art museums, aquariums, and musical performances. Wesley U courses are designed to be as engaging as possible for people both within our community and within our surrounding neighborhoods, and its success is evident in the ever-increasing number of attendees and residents.

The Wesley U continuing education program is a unique nexus of learning, entertainment, and intellectual exploration. Through its courses, Wesley U provides opportunities for residents and outside neighbors alike to engage one another in the enriching processes of lifelong learning together. Wesley Des Moines is proud to nominate Wesley U for the Leading - Edge Care and Services Award, and we appreciate your consideration.

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