Senior working on piece at Ebenezer Ridges

Ebenezer Ridges Life-Long Learning Program

Organization Associated with Program
Ebenezer Ridges
13810 Community Drive
Burnsville, Minnesota 55337

The Life-Long Learning Program is an intergenerational shared-site program. It brings together children from a child care center and older adults from four components of the Ebenezer Ridges continuum of care campus (skilled nursing facility, assisted living residence, adult day center, and independent housing) to receive services. Activities include informal encounters and various outings, community service projects, and specialized creative arts programs conducted in collaboration with community partners. Creative arts programs include music, art, pottery, sign language, painting, foreign language (Spanish), dance, poetry, community service, physical wellness and exercise programs, community education, and nature-based programming. Program activities are led by professional artists. The programs are designed to give older people and children a sense of purpose, the opportunity to grow and learn, and a way to build meaningful relationships across generations through participation in daily shared activities.

Program History

The program was launched in 2002 and was developed to provide enriching cultural, social, and academic experiences across generations, along with enhanced recreational therapy to improve the health and wellbeing of participants. The primary focus is on providing an innovative evidence-based program that promotes emotional, physical, spiritual, cognitive, social, and educational growth. The Life-Long Learning & Intergenerational Program Coordinator provides project oversight and coordination while developing creative arts and wellness activities, strengthening community partnerships, and codifying best practices for replication.

The name Ebenezer means “stone of help,” and since 1917 Ebenezer Ridges has strived to make that a reality by providing community-centered care for older adults and others in need. The organization was founded when a group of Lutheran church leaders built a home for the growing number of homeless older people, and it has grown over the years, opening the Ebenezer Ridges Care Center in Burnsville, Minnesota in 1976. Since 1983 it has developed into a continuum of care campus offering independent living, assisted living, transitional rehabilitation care, and an adult day center. Ebenezer Ridges’ mission is to help older adults and others make their lives more independent, healthful, meaningful, and secure. This is achieved by holding fast to the commitment to serve those with limited incomes and disabilities, with a focus on serving the whole person and reflecting values of service, integrity, dignity, and respect in all aspects of care and business.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Each program has a unique outline that defines its goals, objectives, and evaluation tools. Programs are evaluated through the use of interviews, attendance numbers, and individual assessments. All partnering organizations are requested to help develop evaluations. Ebenezer Ridges is also starting to conduct pre-surveys on all new Life-Long Learning programs, as well as post-surveys following the initial set of sessions.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs
  • Develop your mission and vision of the program to match the mission and vision of the organization.
  • Have a coordinator in place to lead the team, partners, and volunteers.
  • Develop outlines, goals, objectives, and evaluations for each program and partnership.
  • Conduct continual assessment and evaluation of the program.
  • Conduct staff training and continued educational workshops.
Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Presenting a Performance, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop, Watch a Lecture/Demonstration
Arts Discipline: Dance, Folk/Traditional Arts, Literature, Museums, Music, Musical Theater, Theater, Visual Arts
Interdisciplinary Connections: Ecology / Gardening / Natural Environments, Education, History, Volunteerism
Target Audience: Active Adults, Caregivers - Family, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities
Program Setting: Adult Day Care, Assisted Living, Healthcare - Long Term Care
Program Service Area: Suburban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice