A social worker by training, Rubin thought her career trajectory would lead to directing a nursing home. Instead, she initiated a series of classes that connect older adults, students and teachers who, together, create art.
“While building PALETTE, I drew from the philosophy of the late psychiatrist, Dr. Gene Cohen, who believed that creativity enriches our lives at every stage,” Rubin says.
PALETTE’s mission is to connect students with active, older adults and help erase the stereotypes young people may have about aging. The students aren’t “helping” the older adults; rather they’re working together as peers.
PALETTE’s main academic partner is Virginia Commonwealth University. Students from the school’s pharmacy, physical therapy, dentistry, social work and dance and choreography departments can earn a credit for signing up to be part of a PAL team. Each cohort involves 20 students, 20 older adults and an instructor. (There have been five cohorts since the inception of PALETTE, which is funded by the Geriatric Training & Education initiative, administered by the Virginia Center on Aging and appropriated by the Virginia General Assembly, in January 2014.)