Since 2015, the MIT AgeLab has awarded scholarships to high school students who developed intergenerational programs — initiatives that bring together younger and older people for knowledge-sharing and social connection — in their communities. On Sept. 9, five $5,000 OMEGA scholarships were given to high school students across the United States, supported by the sponsorship of AlerisLife, a senior living and rehabilitation and wellness services company headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts, and AARP.
OMEGA, which stands for Opportunities for Multigenerational Exchange, Growth, and Action, develops programming and offers scholarships to facilitate intergenerational connections between younger people and older adults in their communities.
The scholarships were awarded at a virtual ceremony hosted by the MIT AgeLab, with representatives from the AgeLab, AARP, and AlerisLife in attendance, along with the scholarship winners, their parents, and mentors.
The five scholarship winners and their winning programs are:
- Cora Funk, senior at Valor Collegiate Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. After attending an OMEGA Summit in 2020, Funk developed “Students Connecting with Seniors,” a club connecting local high school students with older adults in the Nashville community. SCS primarily partners with FiftyForward, a local nonprofit organization.
- Maya Joshi, senior at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois. Joshi is the president and founder of a chapter-based nonprofit “Lifting Hearts with the Arts,” which connects older adults and youth for arts-based, one-on-one activities as well as group programming including trivia, art lessons, and tai chi.
- Maya Lall, senior at Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Lall founded and serves as executive director of “Supporting Seniors,” which provides older adults with technology support through video demonstrations, virtual and in-person troubleshooting, and technology courses at local senior living communities including Five Star Premier Residences of Chevy Chase and Aspenwood Senior Living Community.
- Steven Yang, senior at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minnesota. Yang is founder and president of “Zenith,” which partners with TCM Health Center to train high school student volunteers to teach tai chi classes in local residential and assisted living communities.
- Michael Wilson, now a student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. Wilson coordinated a local chapter of the Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association. His program, “Bridging the Gap through Music,” fosters intergenerational interactions through acoustic music jams and performances. He is also a lead speaker, singer, and mandolin player in the band “Six Gal ‘n Hat,” which plays music for older adults at local events.