2017 Bright Idea
City of West Palm Beach, FL
January 1, 2017

increMental-U: small steps, Big Results energizes a city by offering creative and inspiring programs to keep citizens active and mentally fit. The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach began work on a lifelong learning program in response to the increasing influx of retirees coming from the northern states to Florida, especially to downtown West Palm Beach. The arriving retirees, combined with the large number of studies linking lifelong learning with cognitive stability, emotional resilience, psychological and mental health, made this effort an imperative. A closer look at these studies show that lifelong learning is also beneficial to individuals in the workforce since it has measurable impacts in terms of building self-esteem, adapting to change, expanding comfort zones, being forward-thinking, keeping the mind sharp, and promoting a feeling of wellbeing. Efforts then began towards creating a program that would engage all brain functions, and the formula of including academic lectures, hands on art, performances, participative workshops, panel discussions, exhibits, and a writer’s incubator called the Aspiring Author Institute was developed. All programs and materials are offered free of charge as a means to increase access.