Vote Online to Help Iowa State, USA Boxing Gain $50,000 Encore Prize to Engage Older Adults in Improving Lives of Vulnerable Youth

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University and USA Boxing’s Parkin-A-Punch program is one of 15 semifinalists for The Encore Prize: Generation to Generation Challenge. The national competition will award $50,000 each to two winners with innovative ideas for engaging people over age 50 in improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth. announced the selection Aug. 7.

Parkin-A-Punch was selected from a field of 180 applicants. ISU Extension and Outreach, the Department of Kinesiology and USA Boxing are partnering together to match young boxers with older adults who have Parkinson’s disease. As older adults learn boxing, they become role models, helping their young coaches identify and pursue their goals and dreams.

Members of the public can vote for Parkin-A-Punch once per day through Aug. 31 and help this project advance to the final stage of judging. In early September, will announce five finalists who will compete in October for two $50,000 awards. Learn more and vote for Parkin-A-Punch online at

“USA Boxing is excited to be a part of Encore’s Generation 2 Generation Competition. We look forward to working with Iowa State to help adults with Parkinson’s disease feel they have purpose as they mentor young boxers around the United States. USA Boxing fully supports everyone who is battling this disease. We are fighting with them,” said Mike McAtee, USA Boxing executive director.

Medical and scientific innovations to extend the lifespan are abundant. But there aren’t a lot of creative ideas for how to make these extra decades meaningful and, in the process, improve the well-being of younger and older generations and communities. What’s more, funding to fill this innovation gap is scarce.

Cathy Hockaday is ISU Extension and Outreach’s project coordinator for Parkin-A-Punch. She says the project isn’t just about boxing.

“It’s about helping youth set goals with help from caring adults acting as their mentors,” said Hockaday, a human sciences specialist.

Parkin-A-Punch incorporates activities from “Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14,” an ISU Extension and Outreach evidence-based curriculum. SFP 10-14 builds family skills: parents learn how to effectively nurture, discipline and guide their youth, while youth learn how to deal with stress and peer pressure and plan for a healthy future. They work together to improve communication and problem-solving.

“Not only will this program provide meaningful mentorship to vulnerable youth, but it will also protect against the progression of many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Boxing will help people with balance, moving faster and increasing endurance. It is a win-win situation – improving motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and increasing quality of life through the mentoring experience,” said Elizabeth Stegemöller, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and part of the project team. She conducts research on neural control and performance of repetitive movement in people with Parkinson's disease.

“Older adults, and the talent and experience they bring, are an overlooked national resource,” said Generation to Generation Campaign Director Eunice Lin Nichols. “Millions of kids growing up in challenging circumstances need more caring adults in their lives. The Encore Prize will invest in innovators who bring the generations together, delivering the strength of encore talent to kids who need champions.”

The Encore Prize is funded by The John Templeton Foundation and the MetLife Foundation, and was created with the support of Aging2.0, IDEO, the MFA in Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts, the Milken Center on the Future of Aging, the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute.

On Oct. 16 in Boston, five Encore Prize finalists will pitch their ideas in front of a live audience. A panel of judges -- including Soledad O’Brien, broadcast journalist and co-founder of the PowHERful Foundation; Chip Conley, author and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality; Obie McKensie, managing director at Blackrock; and Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s and president of Daily Table -- will select one of the $50,000 winners. The other $50,000 winner will be chosen by his or her fellow competitors. is a national nonprofit building a movement to tap the skills and and talents of experienced adults to improve communities and the world. Generation to Generation is’s five-year campaign to mobilize adults 50+ to help young people thrive. The Encore Prize is designed to recognize and support innovative individuals and organizations of any age with new ideas to use the experience of people over 50 to help solve pressing social problems. The 2017 challenge focuses specifically on helping kids at risk.

About the Authors

Cathy Hockaday

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach


Laura Sternweis

Organizational Advancement