Watermark is proud to be a recipient of International Council on Active Aging® Innovators Achievement Award for 2017 for its landmark program, Watermark University. In 2008 Watermark initiated a dramatic shift in its philosophy of daily resident lifestyle and recreation programming. Watermark’s Community Life Directors, previously aligned with the traditional role in the senior living industry as those who planned parties, booked entertainers and led generic and bland activities, were now charged with a new mission: to re-imagine their roles from one that resembled a cruise ship activities director to that of a faculty member and leader of Watermark University. It is a paradigm shift that has some important outcomes across Watermark.
By 2009 each WRC community transitioned from an activity calendar filled with stereotypical senior recreation to unique course catalogs that highlighted classes that promote these dimensions of well-being, and particularly those that strengthen the connection of one dimension to others. Over the last near decade, what has become the most notable characteristic of Watermark University is its expansive inclusiveness: the genuine excitement that is generated when instructors are supported in creating their own curricula attracts and generates a level of engagement in those around them that is unprecedented in Watermark’s nearly 40-year history. It is that rare kind of true engagement that feeds on itself and creates communities characterized by spiritual richness, physical vitality and social concord.