The Best Day of My Life So Far runs two interrelated programs. One program focuses on training professionals and equipping them to pass the knowledge onto volunteers — this allows us to distribute our intergenerational engagement methods to younger people in the most efficient and quality controlled way possible, to change the most number of lives nationwide. The other program focuses on directly engaging and serving older adults with pen and paper, and sharing their stories through live events and digital media to younger generations — this keeps our intergenerational relationships real, relevant and deeply human. Together, these programs give power to our fight against older adult isolation, and make us different from any other program serving older adults.
1. The Story Cure
Our professional engagement program and expansion lever
The purpose of the Story Cure Program is to distribute The Best Day of My Life So Far’s legally trademarked, research proven intergenerational engagement methods nationwide, focusing on one deserving city at a time. This is a professional development and recognition program especially suited for healthcare and education professionals, or college students pursuing these fields, and is personally led by Best Day’s founder and internationally recognized older adult social health expert, Benita Cooper. Outstanding professional attendees and their workplaces are recognized through admittance into our merit-based Council of Intergenerational Leadership – this network represents a national standard of excellence for older adult care and intergenerational engagement.
This program was piloted in Erie PA, from May to Sept 2017, with the sponsorship of LIFE-NWPA. The Living Independence for the Elderly – Northwestern Pennsylvania (LIFE-NWPA) model, is also known nationally as PACE (The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly). During this timeframe, it was offered at no cost to 100 healthcare professionals who work at LIFE-NWPA as social workers, activity coordinators, personal care aides, or administrative staff members. The Story Cure Program can be offered to up to 100-400 attendees in each city depending on sponsorship and partnership structure.
After two kickoff webinars, program attendees gain full access to both the Conversation Starter Kit and Group Starter Kit in Best Day’s Digital Toolbox. During the program timeframe, Benita makes herself fully available to attendees to promptly answer any questions and address any issues as they arise. Empowered by Benita’s attention and support, and armed with the guides and progress tracking tools in their kits, program attendees report that this program enriches intergenerational communication within 1-2 conversations, transforms professional interaction with older adults within 2 weeks, and produces visible signs of improved health within 3-4 weeks. The program concludes with an unforgettable 200-person public event aimed at uniting the whole city – which weaves together inspirational story readings and participant testimonials, and interactive storytelling activities.
The Story Cure Program work best at a large scale, when offered to 100-400 attendees at a time. The program size in each city depends on the combined donations and sponsorships from businesses and individuals in that city or dedicated to that city. 100% of the attendees will receive all the tools and instructions needed to start and supervise Best Day of My Life So Far storytelling groups. Each group is designed to engage 15-20 older adults and 4-6 young volunteers in just 8 weeks – and group supervisors have full power to multiply these numbers simply by repeating the 8-week module with or without breaks between the modules. In other words, a supervisor can run 5 modules every year and fit in 2-week breaks in between, impacting up to 75-100 older adults and 20-30 young volunteers per year. In addition, all Story Cure attendees can apply the foundation principles learned in the training program to any personal or professional interactions with older adults. This allows them to improve the lives of all the older adults they already serve, and indirectly improve these older adults’ relationships with family members and (other) healthcare providers.
We are currently raising funds to bring our Story Cure Program to more cities. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a city or become a sponsor! See Our Testimonials which include quotes from professionals who have participated in this program and from people old and young whose lives they have changed. Read our joint Story Cure story with LIFE-NWPA here.
2. Best Day Storytelling Groups
Our signature intergenerational engagement program
Working on our front lines are local volunteers who facilitate our legally trademarked, research proven storytelling groups at diverse sites across the country. Our storytelling model and its outcomes are endorsed by AARP at both the national and state levels, published in professional psychology and social work journals, and have been presented at major national and international conferences. Every Best Day group is a unique community run by a dedicated local team, but all our groups share a sense of genuine human connection described affectionately by participants as “family.”
A closer look at our storytelling sessions…
Every group gathers around a table for an hour a week. Older adults handwrite then read their stories out loud, as volunteers and visitors listen. We create a supportive environment for older adults to express whatever is on their mind – from past experiences to present thoughts to future hopes and worries – and encourages younger people to pause in their busy lives to listen. Each group starts with an average of 4 volunteers and 10 older adult participants – the roster grows at the average rate of 2 more volunteers and 5-10 more participants within 8 weeks. Weekly attendance at a successful group is 15-20 participants with 1 volunteer serving as the lead facilitator of each session, and other volunteers assisting on site or working behind the scenes. All volunteers report to and are recruited by a professional working at the venue. This professional serves as the site’s supervisor and have full power to multiply these numbers indefinitely simply by repeating the 8-week module with or without breaks between the modules.
Our original group began with our founder and 4 older adults on the first day and now has a roster of over two hundred participants. Our storytelling group model has been proven to flourish at 13 pilot sites nationwide; participant transformations are consistent across very different neighborhoods in PA, NJ, WA, OR, IL.
But that’s not all. Our weekly storytelling sessions are just the start of a larger, continuous intergenerational conversation…
Outreach to young people is as important to us as outreach to older adult participants. Not only are young people invited to all the sessions at all our physical sites, we welcome them to listen in virtually, anytime, anywhere, by sharing our older adults’ stories and transformations through integrated digital platforms, including: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, blogs dedicated to local sites, inspirational newsletters, and our Online Library. In addition, we balance this fluid intergenerational dialogue with high-impact community events throughout the year, to gather large numbers of young and old people (typically 75-400people/event) face to face, and remind us all how it feels to truly connect as humans.
To see program outcomes for both older and younger participants, please see Our Impact.
A note about metrics
Besides the quantitative metrics described above, we hold our work to a high standard and stand by these 6 Qualitative Metrics. All of our programming and services can be measured with these metrics. Visit our Research page for more details.
- Social Engagement
- Technological Engagement
- Intergenerational Engagement
- Cognitive Activity
- Reminiscence Activity
- Emotional Expression