Active ageing and digital storytelling in the AHEAD project

AHEAD is an EU-funded international project with central themes of lifelong learning, storytelling and seniors as users of digital technology. During the last week of September, 29 -30.9., the project actors met for a two-day seminar at Laurea Leppävaara campus. The seminar also was a part of international Active Aging Week that was now celebrated for the first time in Finland.

The purpose of the AHEAD project is to develop, test and bring into general use an holistic approach to active ageing based on senior citizens’ travelling experiences. The aim is to create a new training model and a mobile app that are tailored to the needs of the senior travellers.

Project partners from all over Europe

In addition to Laurea, there are five European partners involved in the project. An Italian company offering strategic planning and education, Superficie 8, acts as the coordinator of the AHEAD project. Additionally, English Durham University, Slovenian Ljudska Univerza Velenje who offer adult education, European organisation Le Mat that promotes social entrepreneurship in tourism, as well as Swiss non-profit organisation Seed that focusses on e-learning are involved in the project.

Not only project partners from different countries participated in the seminar in Leppävaara, but there was also a group of Finnish seniors that had taken part in a tablet course, organised during this project.

The seminar was opened by Italian Barbara di Pietro from Superficie 8, who works as the project manager for AHEAD. She introduced the starting points of the project and its phases so far.

- The project is based on both the development of digital technologies and the change of global demographic change - which in my opinion is, first and foremost, a great opportunity rather than a threat, she stated.
- The purpose has been to empower people, to encourage them to use new technology and through that tell stories and take control of their own living environment.

A retired Laurea President Pentti Rauhala also took part in the seminar. He was involved in the AHEAD project as a learner via Laurean Seniorit ry. In his speech, Rauhala highlighted the fact “how rare and precious it is that in this project, normal citizens have had a possibility to take part in an international project”.

Other presentations of the seminar included for example Laurea’s Principal Lecturer Maria Ekström, who has extensively studied ageing people as consumers. Ekström’s message to the audience was that “age is not only a number, but above all a story”.

Learning from encounters

In addition to presentations, the seminar participants had a possibility to get to explore the actions and discoveries of different project partners. A photograph exhibition by the seniors that participated in the project was also on display, and there were exhibitors presenting different digital services and products.

On the second day of the seminar there was a workshop that aimed to answer the question “how can we create sustainable business models for learning digital storytelling?”

- The project has created plenty of discussion and new connections, as well as offered possibilities to share thoughts with others. These are very important aspects of this project, describe Sean McCusker from England and Principal Lecturer Auli Guilland from Laurea, who were involved in the project.

Mihaela Orozel from Ljudska Univerza Velenja, Slovenia, was on common ground:

- One of the most important discoveries when working with seniors was to realise that learning continues throughout life - and that it is really fun, she described.
- Learning can also happen anywhere, not just on a lecture. That has occurred here in the seminar today, too.

Read more from
the project website and from the Facebook page. The seniors’ stories and the project’s mobile application can be explored at

Modified 10/26/2015 9:46 AM

​ Barbara di Pietro from Superficie 8.