We’re a pretty friendly group at OATS, but please don’t make the mistake of defining us as technology trainers. The staff will look pained and pointedly correct you:
“We’re a social change organization.”
Advocacy and social change are at the heart of everything we do at OATS. Our members have testified at public hearings, held press conferences on the steps of City Hall, hosted a lobby day at the State Capitol, and volunteered on phone banks to get others involved. We’ve held “hack aging” and social impact design events where seniors can shape the future policies about aging. OATS members have met with mayors, commissioners, corporate executives, and the heads of philanthropic foundations—all to make the case for investing in effective programs that are shaping our lives in the longevity era.
Advocacy is such a large part of our mission at OATS that it comprises one of our five impact areas (the other four are social engagement, financial security, health, and creativity). These are the categories where we want to make lasting change. Here are a few examples of ways OATS members have made a difference in recent years:
Bringing nearly 100 participants to meet with legislators in the state capitol to advocate successfully for increased budget for training programs for rural seniors, which helped generate support for a 35 percent increase in public funding.
Writing and producing a public service announcement showcasing positive messages about the strength, creativity, and learning potential of older adults who are “aging with attitude” at Senior Planet, which was sponsored by Altice and viewed by hundreds of thousands of cable TV subscribers.
Taking over the steps of New York City Hall to hold a press conference calling for funding for technology programs for older adults, an event which helped generate nearly $2 million in new and renewed support.
Renting out one of Manhattan’s most exclusive nightclubs for an intergenerational dance party where older adults spun their own vinyl in the DJ booth and occupied a social environment where they once might have felt unwelcome.
OATS has embraced the civic energy of our members, developing “Activate!”, a popular ten-week leadership training program for older activists that teaches policy research skills alongside practical techniques for connecting with public officials online and shaping dialogue in digital forums. After graduation our new leaders become actively involved in spreading positive and inspirational messages about aging through publications, press events, and public speaking.