New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Next Generation Elizabeth Youth to help Seniors Stay Healthy and Safe

Groundwork Elizabeth’s Next Generation Community Leaders Youth team is currently engaging and receiving guidance from trained community-based experts in anticipation of implementing a four-week program in the City of Elizabeth, which targets an often overlooked and fragile population—its senior citizens.

The Elizabeth-based team spent months investigating community health challenges and has developed a collective passion to make a difference in addressing seniors’ health. The four-week program aims to reduce falls and accidents by having trained youth assess seniors’ homes for potentially life-threatening situations, i.e. sharp corners on furniture, slippery rugs, etc. These visits will also include checking to see if there is enough food in their kitchens. The group also intends to reduce the seniors’ isolation and promote better mental health by interviewing the seniors, turning their responses into personal narratives, and with the seniors’ permission, collate the narratives into a booklet to be shared with the community and others.

Shadon Taylor, a member of the youth team, has lived in Elizabeth his entire life, and recently faced a personal tragedy that fueled the group decision. He spoke in one of the Next Gen meetings about a personal experience he had with his grandfather.

Shadon Taylor and Ivy White of the Next Gen Elizabeth Team prepare for Summer 2018

This past March my grandfather fell at his home and hit his head, which resulted in some pretty bad brain damage. He was close to my heart. I don’t want anyone else to face this type of tragedy. We need to look after our seniors.

“This past March my grandfather fell at his home and hit his head, which resulted in some pretty bad brain damage. He was close to my heart. I don’t want anyone else to face this type of tragedy. We need to look after our seniors,” he said.

The Next Generation Community Leaders Elizabeth team is putting its plan into action by headquartering at senior centers around the city, gaining seniors’ trust, and visiting their homes. The youth are working hard to increase senior citizen safety and well-being with the collaboration of the Shaping Elizabeth Coalition and several of its partners — Gateway Family YMCA, City of Elizabeth Division on Aging, Elizabeth Housing Authority, County of Union Division of Human Services, Jewish Family Service Lifelong Elizabeth Program, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

Follow Elizabeth’s Next Generation Community Leaders team to see their progress throughout July. Track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.

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Project
Author
Dionis Ramirez
Organization
Groundwork Elizabeth