Education Through Celebration: Alabama woman’s extension work inspires outreach journey with the elderly

As a Macon County Extension Coordinator, Janice Hall spearheaded an inspiring program to celebrate the elderly in her community while also empowering them with vital health resources and — by throwing birthday parties!

Janice Hall is well-respected throughout her Alabama community for bridging gaps and creating community bonds with the elderly. She has done this through her work as the Macon County Extension Coordinator, a position she has held for an impressive 25 years.

In a recent interview, Hall discussed the innovative program she spearheaded, “Let’s Celebrate, Let’s Educate: Prepare for the Future Party,” which is designed to educate and celebrate the senior citizens living across Alabama.

The program’s inception was inspired by a community partner’s suggestion to educate seniors on Medicaid and Medicare. The idea of a birthday party immediately resonated with Janice. She recognized the potential to create an event that not only celebrated seniors but also provided them with valuable information about available resources.

For many seniors, isolation can become a common experience — especially following retirement. Janice emphasized the importance of these events as opportunities for seniors to connect, socialize, and discover the various offerings provided to them by Alabama’s Extension Services. The parties aim to express love, celebrate life, and introduce seniors to the broader Extension community.

Hall’s journey into Extension work began unexpectedly. With a background in 4-H, she initially had limited knowledge of Extension beyond youth programs. However, after securing a position at the courthouse, she quickly fell in love with the idea of serving the community, teaching adults, and making a positive impact.

Extension, as Hall describes it, is an ideal outreach tool for addressing community needs. The Senior Citizen Birthday Party Program emerged as a platform to celebrate seniors who may not have had a birthday party or even attended one in many years. Not to mention, the idea put a fun twist on the true purpose of educating them about resources such as Medicaid, Medicare, and free attorney services.

Over the years, Hall and her team have continuously enhanced the birthday party programs to address additional health needs within the senior community. Collaborations with Tuskegee University College of Nursing and Auburn University College of Nursing have expanded the program’s scope, offering health services like blood pressure and glucose checks during the events.

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