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Innovation Infusion - Dr. Jerome Singleton: Review and Reflection

Review and Reflection on Dr. Jerome Singleton’s Innovation Infusion Section

On November 13th, 2014, Dr. Jerome Singleton gave a presentation on the topic “Leisure and Aging 2015: Economic and Social Cost of Exclusion”. He provided the audience with a balanced combination of theory and practice to explore this topic. He started by introducing the global perspectives on leisure and aging before focusing on how leisure services are offered for elders and how they have evolved. His presentation sparked great discussion on the topic from both faculty members and students.

Reflection from Faculty Members

Leisure for Seniors in Training
Dr. Singleton reminded us that we are all seniors in training and that the success of that training will largely be defined by the role of leisure in our lives. Leisure can be viewed as a self-defined experience that can result in improved social, physical, and emotional health at all stages of the lifespan. He noted that as we transition through different stages of the lifespan we add and drop leisure activities due to the demands of a particular stage. For example, for youth and adolescent there are many structures (e.g., school) that can provide opportunities for a broad leisure repertoire; however, as we transition into early and middle adulthood, we are likely to drop the activities that depended on that structure and replace them with less structured leisure and eventually the leisure of our children.
Dr. Singleton noted that as we age, our leisure choices might once again be influenced by the structures that exist around us and are provided for us (e.g., leisure programs at seniors centers and care facilities). Unfortunately, the options provided are often based upon assumptions about older adults and thus may not be fulfilling or meaningful to the participants. Leisure leaders can play a vital role in the successful aging of our population but to do this we must change the discourse of aging and move away from our preconceived notions of what it means to be old.
--Aggie Weighill

Don’t Assume I Want to Lawn Bowl.
As I push up the glasses on my nose, it is my first week of joining the new club, “the permanent glasses club”, I am not quite ready to embrace the concept yet, but I must admit, I am aging.  According to Singleton, I do not know why I should be so surprised, I have been aging since the day I was born but somehow it seems to have become very apparent to me in recent days. 
Who knew that as I aged, communities would seek after me as a commodity and an asset that they see as valuable to enhancing their community resilience.  I am also considered an economic generator, according to Singleton, and one that communities across the globe are paying close attention to.  The baby boomers’ pocket books, education, health, community service, civic responsibility, leisure literacy and independence are all qualities to be valued.  However, what is a bigger indicator of our aging process is our families, our partners and whether or not we have had children.  It is an indicator of how, where and when we will spend our leisure over the next season of time.
Singleton challenged the students: have you considered working in this sector? if not, why not and if no, you are missing the greatest opportunity this next decade will celebrate. 
And by the way, ask me if I want to lawn bowl, do not assume that is my leisure interest, I might be out hiking with my grandkids and traveling with my spouse!
--Joanne Schroeder

Thoughts from Students

We Need Programs Beneficial for Seniors Now and Sustainable for the Future.
Population growth projections in BC are predicting that in 2041 there will be 6 million residents in the province and a third of them will be over the age of 60 (BC Stats, 2013). This makes Dr. Jerome Singleton’s presentation extremely important to anyone working in the tourism, recreation or health field. For me, the biggest takeaway was the discussion about the economic versus the social benefits. Dr. Singleton discussed how in the recreation and tourism field we feel the need to justify programs based on the social benefits, and providing social justice for those who may be underserved, such as seniors, but this is contradictory to the neoliberal values of society today. He suggests a new perspective that by justifying service provision through the economic benefits the social benefits will still occur. We are all “seniors in training” and it is important to set programs in place that are going to beneficial to seniors now and sustainable over the coming year as the number of seniors grows.
-- Caleigh Ellis

An Innovative way to look at the topic of Leisure and Aging
Dr. Singleton’s lecture on leisure and aging from an economic perspective was very informative and really interesting. I particularly liked his way of approaching this important issue in leisure research in a funny and engaging way that made me think about the topic and the ways we approach this issue. It was very interesting that he explored the issue from an economic point of view instead of the usual social standpoint. Dr. Singleton’s lecture presented the current sustainability issue related to demographic change in an innovative and very engaging way, which makes it a great Innovation Infusion.
--Maren Schullerus

The Senior Industry is Worth Our Investment and Commitment.
On the same day of Dr. Singleton’s presentation, I saw a news piece about the senior care industry Expo in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province. In the coverage, senior people were experiencing all kinds of adaptive technologies, such as a wheelchair which can be used to climb stairs, and motor cars specially designed for the elders. According to the report, the senior care industry in China has contributed 8% of the country’s GDP. Estimation is that by 2050, it will ramp up to 33%.
Apparently, seniors are a great economic generator. Just as Dr. Singleton said, the economic benefit will drive the social benefits. With these new technologies, senior citizens will get around more conveniently and have more easy access to leisure activities. They will feel less left behind and more integrated into society, which enhances social harmony and sustainability. Even though the remarkable economic growth is good, I am more delighted to see the increased life quality of elderly people and the increased care about them from society. The senior industry is an industry with great humanity as well as economic benefits. It’s worth our investment and commitment. The more we contribute today, the more we will be given back someday. Remember everyone is a Senior in Training, according to Dr. Singleton.
--Xinting Liang (Wendy)

Dr. Singleton’s presentation shed light on the topic of leisure and aging, made us aware of the reality of aging and provided a new perspective on it -- economic. As the elderly population grows, there will be more products and service for seniors needed. Seniors should be seen as an asset instead of a burden for our communities. Dr. Singleton’s passion on this topic reminds us that society must be more and more aware of the need of sustainable programs beneficial for seniors.

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