Elder Advocacy: Lifesprk Named First ALPA Pilot Site in Minnesota

For three years, Jan Hively and her colleague Mary Radu have been working diligently on a curriculum to help more seniors gain the skills needed to age positively. And now they are bringing that curriculum to Minnesota. The Life Planning Network has named Lifesprk, based in Edina, MN, their partner as the first pilot site in Minnesota for their Advocacy Leadership for Positive Aging (ALPA) program.

read-lifesprkAccording to Jan, Lifesprk was a natural choice. “Lifesprk believes passionately in sparking lives and that is completely in synch with our philosophy of positive aging. We both believe in proactively empowering older adults to maximize self-management as their lives change. The world is changing, adding years to our lives,” she explains. Hively is 81 years old herself with an extensive background in education. “Today, leadership is no longer someone leads and others follow. Everyone needs to learn advocacy for themselves and how to be proactive in our life planning, especially with the average extra 20 years we are now living.”

ALPA is an experiential curriculum with a combination of online training and tools and classroom discussion. Designed as a train-the-trainer program, the curriculum is open to both professionals and volunteers working with people in the second half of life. Lifesprk has more than 14 people involved in the initial 6-week series, including Joel Theisen, RN, Lifesprk CEO & Founder, several Life Care Managers (registered nurses), a Lifesprk Navigator (social worker), paraprofessionals, and strategic partners involved in housing services.

“This is a working pilot that will help us all learn and refine our efforts. We’re honored to pioneer this curriculum and look at how it can blend and enhance our work to spark people’s lives,” explained Joel.

Jan and Mary, who have been the lead developers of the ALPA program, are planning to use the pilot to test, learn, and revise the curriculum prior to offering it more widely across the country. A volunteer evaluator, Sheila Tarbet, PhD, is working with the team to develop a thorough evaluation process for each of the pilots.

Sharon Roe Anderson, an expert in strategic planning and professional development, has been selected as the volunteer Coordinator to co-lead the pilot program with Lifesprk’s Senior Vice President of Life Services.