FTC’s Pass It On Campaign Helps Seniors Protect Each Other from Scams and Fraud

Chances are good that someone you know has been scammed. They might not talk about it, but the statistics show attempted scamming is common. Libraries are an important source to computers and digital literacy training helping seniors connect with family, friends, health information and government services. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works to prevent fraud and deceptive business practices. Its new initiative, Pass It On, was designed to help seniors teach their peers how to avoid scams, rip-offs, and identity theft with materials in English and Spanish that librarians can download, order in bulk, and distribute to their customers.

Pass It On reinforces what older adults already know, gives them the tools to start a conversation, and asks them to pass it on. The materials are respectful of older adults, and view them as part of the solution.

On the site, you’ll find:

  • one-page fact sheets on six issues often seen by older adults: imposter scams, identity theft, charity fraud, health care scams, paying too much, and “you’ve won” scams;
  • bookmarks on all those topics, to serve as reminders of what to do;
  • activities to print and use;
  • a video to encourage people to pass it on;
  • and, coming soon, presentations on each of the topics.

You’ll also find a link to order the materials for free and in large quantities. You can order a folder with materials on all the issues in one place, an issue at a time in a tear-off pad of fact sheets, or a brick of bookmarks.

If you have questions, ideas on other issues to cover, or other resources that would help you, please feel free to contact the FTC at PassItOn@ftc.gov.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational | 2 Comments

Kids Stay Active at The Strong Museum All Year Long

By Shane D. Rhinewald
Director of Public Relations, The Strong

The Strong museum in Rochester, NY, welcomed more than 1,200 pre-K through Grade 5 students for five days of Let’s Move!-themed lessons and activities this past June. Students visited a variety of heart-healthy stations in the museum to learn how to develop good habits for the summer ahead.

“The Strong believes in promoting an active lifestyle to help combat childhood obesity,” says Debbie McCoy, The Strong’s director of education. “We hope that the lessons students learned here will carry into their summer activities—and through the rest of their lives.”

Kids practicing yoga in the museum.

During the Let’s Move! event, students worked up a sweat through a variety of activities, including yoga, which included basic poses and stretching; active games such as hopscotch; and miniature golf. Students also learned about healthy eating habits, planned their own menus using the government’s My Plate dietary guidelines, and played a food sorting game. Teachers received a list of resources and books—such as My Plate and You and The Great Outdoors—to encourage active learning in their classrooms.

A girl in the organic farm exhibit holding an egg.

As a Let’s Move! museum, The Strong encourages healthy lifestyles all year long—even when school is not in session. In July, the museum hosted a Get Moving Week which featured hopscotch, hula hooping, and parachute games, along with competitive cup stacking and dance. Throughout the year, the museum supports healthy lifestyles for children and families by sharing tips and suggestions about being active through social media, by offering healthy food options in its food court, and by making My Plate guidelines and other resources available in its Wegmans Super Kids Market exhibit.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Health, Let's Move! Museums & Gardens | 2 Comments

A Priority to Create More Inclusive Outdoor Experiences, Boosted with IMLS Support

By Lucille Gertz
Statewide Education Projects Manager, Massachusetts Audubon Society

Mass Audubon strives to welcome and engage a wide range of visitors. By making our nineteen nature centers more accessible, and by creating accessible trail experiences, we’re working hard to ensure that everyone can experience the nature of Massachusetts. We’ve already made a lot of progress. The public facilities at most of our centers are universally accessible, and we have several fully accessible trails. Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), eight more Mass Audubon centers now feature a multi-sensory interpretive trail affording a rich experience for visitors with a wide range of vision, hearing, and mobility levels.

At Boston Nature Center’s Sensory Trail Opening (l to r):  Lucy Gertz, Project Manager for the IMLS grant; Julie Brandlen,  Director, Boston Nature Center; and Jerry Berrier, Project Consultant October 2013.

At Boston Nature Center’s Sensory Trail Opening (l to r):
Lucy Gertz, Project Manager for the IMLS grant; Julie Brandlen,
Director, Boston Nature Center; and Jerry Berrier, Project Consultant
October 2013.

The accessible interpreted trails each have a combination of these resources:

  • Audio tours—available by cell phone, online, or on a borrowed audio player
  • Trail information booklet—available online, in large print, and in Braille
  • Trail map—available in printed and tactile formats
  • Rope/post guiding system
  • Stops that are designed for sensory-rich audio and tactile exploration
  • Signage along the trail marking the stops with large print and Braille
  • Improved trail surfacing and wider boardwalks with safety edging
  • Accessible seating areas
  • Orientation materials and information panels
  • Visitor services staff and volunteers who have been trained in accessibility regulations, customer service, and etiquette


While developing these trails, we learned some important things. We engaged accessibility consultants, local resource professionals, volunteers, and supporters on each project, and we cannot overstate the value of testing all ideas, plans, and proposed content with target audiences. Second, tester input helped us better understand the need for transportation information and physical accessibility upgrades needed at our centers. Finally, we learned to design trail experiences, balancing safety with the authenticity of an outdoor experience. While visitors must be safely navigated around hazardous rocks, trees, and other vegetation, we still highlight the natural features, textures, smells, sounds, and changes in elevation and microclimates.

“I used to go to my local Mass Audubon nature center and spend a few hours sitting on the deck listening to birds. I enjoyed the experience, but it was limited. I could smell the flowers and listen to the birds, but that was about all I could do. Now that an accessible trail has been completed there, today, I can go back to that same place without assistance. On the mile-long, rope-guided trail, I can independently walk through a butterfly garden, visit the bird blind, examine and learn about various types of tree bark, visit and learn about a wetland and a frog pond, touch a 90-foot tall oak tree that was there when Teddy Roosevelt was president, and put my hands in a fountain containing a tactile representation of the local watershed. That’s a big difference. These accessibility enhancements have made a huge difference to me personally, and I know they have to other people with disabilities also.”
-Visitor Testimony

IMLS support has boosted our efforts and our momentum to continue making strides. To date, ten accessible interpreted trails are completed, and three more are in development. Our website and printed guide “Places to Explore” now prominently feature accessibility information. We regularly advise other organizations seeking to develop similar trails. In 2015, we plan to produce a manual to share our experience and the guidelines we established, and will follow up as we develop ten more accessible interpreted trails across the Commonwealth.

Lucille Gertz, Statewide Education Projects Manager at Mass Audubon, works with 19 staffed nature centers to strengthen visitor experience and to provide resources to help visitors and program participants experience, understand, and protect the nature of Massachusetts.

Posted in Accessibility, Environment and Energy, Health, Museums for America | Comments Off