Key Takeaways

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2021 (see all 2021 Programs of Excellence Winners)
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Technology Makers Space
  • Hosting Organization: Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • St. Cloud Population: 199,671
  • Population 65+: 12%
  • Senior Center Members: 1,000+

About Wellness Workshop Without Walls

In order for their hybrid lifestyle/behavior change programming to reach an underserved older adult population, the Whitney Senior Center realized the need to repackage existing programming to address realities of social isolation and loneliness. Amazingly, the center recorded just as many virtual contacts throughout the year with 90% of programming being a hybrid of in-person and online formats. In 2021, the center logged 20,000 in-person contacts with senior center members and 20,000 virtual contacts. 

In Collaboration with universities and health care systems, the center maximized the project’s reach by providing Whitney’s programming via 16 mobile technology carts (large TV, mini-PC, accessories) placed around their 14 county region. The center provided these carts, funded with grant dollars, to deliver a wealth of hybrid programming to area churches, health facilities, and housing settings. 

Key takeaways from Wellness Workshop Without Walls

  • Offer wide-ranging, holistic programming. All offerings are focused on nine dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, interpersonal, cultural, spiritual, environmental, financial, occupational. 
  • Form strong community partnerships. One partnership with two area trained 72 university nursing students to facilitate Diabetes Prevention Program workshops. 
  • Partner with health care. We partnered with the largest health care system in our area, CentraCare for targeted recruitment of at-risk patients, filling our wellness workshops efficiently. 

About the Whitney Senior Center

Whitney Senior Center was founded in 1977 and "strives to promote the holistic well-being of all people 55+ in the greater St. Cloud area by providing opportunities for social interaction, recreation, and education. We engage, enrich, and empower the diverse interests and needs of people with dignity, innovation, and joy." Offerings include social, recreational, and educational activities such fitness classes, nutrition and wellness workshops, and technology labs. WSC's Director provides leadership and administration, and  a Wellness Coordinator manages the wellness/evidence-based workshops, and markets, enrolls, and oversees workshop data management. Community health workers serve as liaisons between communities and health care agencies, provide evidence-based programming to community residents and caregivers, enhance community residents' ability to effectively communicate with health care providers, provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health education and prevention, advocate for individual and community health, and work closely with Senior LinkAge Line to provide referral and coordination.