The Eldering with GRACE Project (EWG) is designed as a six-week class series offered in a peer circle format for those living into their third chapters (ages 55 and beyond). Our classes focus on supporting one another and learning stress reduction and body-mind-spirit practices. After the initial six-week series, ongoing classes will be offered for those who wish to stay connected and want to continue to practice their new skills together. Each class is guided by EWG co-facilitators who have completed a twelve-hour training course dedicated to the EWG group process.
All classes follow a two-hour format. During the first hour, group members participate in a peer circle that will discuss the deeper meaning of being a Generative, Resilient, Active, Connected, and Empowered Elder—the five qualities of GRACE. These five qualities provide the foundation for our project.
In the second hour, participants learn and practice various stress reduction techniques, including tai chi and qigong, centuries-old meditative movements that have been scientifically demonstrated to improve balance, prevent falls, assist with Parkinson’s disease, and aid in healing. Participants will be encouraged to develop their own stress reduction and body-mind-spirit tool kits for future use.
The mission of the Eldering with GRACE Project is to create peer circles of caring elders who become increasingly committed to learning and engaging in practices that promote their health and prevent disease. Classes are open to all individuals who are living into their third chapters (ages 55 and beyond). A significant part of our mission will include the provision of outcome data from pilot studies and continuing groups for the purpose of establishing the EWG Project as a replicable model for use in faith congregations and community centers.
The vision of the Eldering with GRACE Project is to provide classes and support for elders who wish to take more personal responsibility for their body-mind-spirit health. This vision includes instilling in elders self-care and stress reduction techniques that will better prepare them to face the numerous transitions of life’s third chapter.Our vision is to empower elders with strategies to prevent falls through movement education and methods to help reduce anxiety through learning and practicing stress reduction methods.
- We believe that our society’s aging population deserves respect and needs to reclaim the revered title of elder.
- Self-care and stress reduction education can prepare individuals for navigating the inevitable challenges of aging and improve their overall coping abilities and well-being.
- Together, those living into their third chapters can learn how to share their individual legacies and wisdom with future generations.
Sharon Otto Trekell, Ph.D. has been a health care advocate since serving as the Director of Public Relations for the International Childbirth Association in the late 1970s. After earning her doctorate in psychology, she served as a psychotherapist at the Dayton Institute for Family Therapy. In 1996 she accepted the position of Coordinator of Spiritual Care at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton. In 2001 she founded the Inner Well Institute, which offers services built on neuropsychology, appreciative inquiry, mindfulness meditation, eastern and western spirituality, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Click here for more information.
Through the institute, Sharon offers classes in tai chi and qigong, wellness coaching, and spiritual direction. As an expansion of these offerings, she will be introducing the Eldering with GRACE (EWG) Project, of which she is the founder. Her current plan is for the project to include a six-week class on well-being and an optional monthly group support meeting. It will be piloted with area professionals and lay people in 2017/18. With the EWG Project, Sharon has carried over two very important concepts that are woven into every class.
In the EWG Project, well-being is a noun and represents a holistic understanding of one’s human needs and capacities. The concept of well-being is subjective because what I might consider as well-being someone else may not. Dr. William H. Thomas, M.D., who founded the Eden project, believes that “Well-being is the most valuable of all human possessions.”
For those participating in EWG, well-being does not refer to the fact a person is free of all disease or lives without chronic pain. The truth is, many people consider themselves well despite the fact they work really hard to manage their pain or to compensate for various health issues. Well-being is our inner capacity to experience that “life is good,” and life’s deep currents are sure “even if the surface waters churn.”
Self-Care is defined in the EWG Project as our ability to manage our energy level daily. Instead of time management, energy management is a practice to monitor our daily schedules to ensure we are as refreshed and replenished as we can be every day. Some of us have worked on auto pilot for many years—believing that we must sacrifice our emotional, physical, and mental well-being for others. Consequently, we forget we can only do for others provided we are taking care of ourselves. This means we are committed to eating, sleeping, laughing, and renewing our personhood so we have enough left over to give.