February 7, 2011
I get the chance to speak to many groups across the country about building more engaged community. Of all the wonderful things that have happened in NCAA Division II schools because of the community engagement strategy that has been in place since 2005, THE one story that resonates the most comes from Emporia State, the story of the senior prom for senior citizens.
Before all is said and done, I bet more than a million people will have seen this picture. Seriously. The woman is looking up in his eyes saying to herself “I never thought I would do this again….” And he is saying two things: “1-2-3 and 1-2-3” and “Dear God don’t let me step on her foot. I know I’ll break it.”
But seriously, you know he will be much more comfortable with senior citizens because of one simple act of kindness.
As I understand the story (Emporians, please correct me if I am wrong), they took our call to action to heart and looked beyond the property lines of the school, finding a senior citizens center. They decided to hold a dance, play music from the 1940s and 50s, learn simple dance steps and matched a student date with each of the 30 or so who RSVPed that they would come.
That was four years ago and every year it gets bigger and better.
That’s what I understand. Here is what I need to know. I have heard:
- It’s not just the student athletes doing it now, the music & arts students and others are involved
- The seniors are on campus for more activities
- Many more DII schools are now holding Senior Proms (I have heard as many as 50 – I’d love to verify that!)
Anyway, this is a story that needs to get out and I would appreciate anything you can share that helps see how far this has spread. Just reply in a comment here.