Oxford Seniors, Miami University sign new partnership agreement

It was a double cause for celebration for Oxford Seniors on Monday when they kicked off the 29th annual Masters Games with a breakfast and also witnessed the signing of a new partnership agreement with Miami University.

The new contract renews a formal partnership which has been in place since 2009, but actually goes back much farther than that with a variety of interactions between the senior citizens organization and Miami students and programs.

Sabrina Jewell, the outreach and marketing coordinator for Oxford Seniors, introduced the program noting just a few of the many areas where the partnership brings the center and university together including such things as student internships, volunteer service with various programs, singing along with members and a host of others.

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“We could not do what we do without Miami students,” Jewell said.

She also highlighted the Masters Games which had officially started earlier that morning with a fitness walk and said there would be two weeks of games including 22 events and with 124 participants signed up.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

Speaker for the Masters Games portion of the program was Dr. Renate Crawford, who said she was honored to be there for the second year and said her husband, Miami President Greg Crawford, was unable to attend due to a schedule conflict.

Renate Crawford is an adjunct physics professor at Miami and serves as university ambassador, a role she embraces.

“I enjoy being part of Miami University and part of the Oxford community,” she said of that ambassador role. “Health and fitness is one of the platforms I am involved in.”

She had taken part in the fitness walk earlier that morning with Masters Games participants and pointed to other involvements encouraging physical activity, including a “Crawford MOVE Boot Camp” begun last spring in the backyard of Lewis Place and continuing this semester. Those activities are led by staff members of the Recreational Sports Center and Dr. Crawford said everyone in the community is invited to take part.

“We have participants as young as 8 and ladies in their 70s,” she said. “Everybody working out together.”

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She said she is also working with others on efforts to have Miami recognized through a national program as an “Outdoor Campus” with activities earning points toward that designation.

She said her schedule is busy but encouraged the senior center to contact her to take part in activities, telling them not to give up if they try three times without success but see if a fourth time is successful. She said she is involved with other community efforts such as the town/gown organization, Not In Our Town and others.

“I’m pleased we have this relationship with Oxford Seniors,” she said. “I look forward to working with you.”

Jewell showed a page-long list of Miami University connections with Oxford Seniors during her remarks without reading all of them but the list covered activities with the Scripps Gerontology Center, the Farmer School of Business, Institute for Learning In Retirement and the Office of Community Service and Engagement.

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Among the student volunteer programs, she mentioned RASKALS—which stands for Random Acts of Kindness Affecting Local Seniors—which sponsors a yearly leaf-raking service for seniors and drew 239 student volunteers last fall.

Another of the partner organizations was the College of Education, Health & Society. Also speaking prior to the signing of the new partnership Memorandum of Understanding was Michael Dantley, dean of the college.

He opened by telling Masters Games participants he was jealous of their green shirts, which was rectified when he ended his remarks and was presented with one.

He said the renaming of the college he heads seemed a tall order at the time.

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“It is an ambitious goal to impact society, but we do. This department impacts society, writ large,” he said. “I’m excited about this partnership and grateful to be able to sign this Memorandum of Understanding.”

He drew a laugh when he closed with a comment referring to the fall leaf-raking efforts of students.

“I’m pleased to hear the positive connotation with the word RASKALS when it comes to our students,” he said.

The program closed with the signing of the document by Crawford, Dantley and Oxford Seniors board president Rich Bement.

The Masters Games continue through this Friday with a variety of competitions each day and the closing luncheon and awards ceremony at noon Friday. Activities will include such varied events as golf, croquet, pool, badminton and basketball contests as well as crossword puzzles, euchre, bridge and Yahtzee.

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