Conference on Aging focuses on vulnerable adults, inclusion

Darcy Elks
Darcy Elks

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – An upcoming University of Nebraska at Kearney conference will examine how society tends to identify some groups of people as fundamentally different and of less value than everyone else.

“Pathways to a Full, Meaningful and Inclusive Life” is the theme for UNK’s seventh annual Conference on Aging. The event, sponsored by UNK’s Department of Social Work and Cambridge Court Assisted Living, is from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Nebraskan Student Union.

Darcy Elks will present “Devaluation of Social Roles for Vulnerable Adults” from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. and “The Power of Valued Social Roles” from 3 to 5 p.m.

For more than 25 years, Elks has been a human service provider, educator, consultant, evaluator and advocate on behalf of people who are societally devalued.

“Darcy’s passion is creating a strong inclusive community where all belong and have opportunities to offer their gifts,” said Maha Younes, professor social work. “She has taught the concepts of Social Role Valorization as a way to assist people who have been devalued, or at risk of devaluation, to have a good life – one that is full of opportunity and hope.”

Elks has three children, including one with a disability, and uses Social Role Valorization as she supports her daughter to have a full, meaningful and inclusive lifestyle.

The Conference on Aging will examine issues associated with society’s devaluation of elders, disabled and other marginalized groups, Younes said.

Sessions will review negative consequences of societal devaluation, including the fact that large numbers of people who become devalued are rejected, cast into extremely harmful “deviancy” roles, and very negatively imaged. The adverse impact of these experiences on people’s potential will be outlined.

Registration is and includes four continuing education credits. Registration is required.

Registration for UNK students and faculty is free. Current field placement supervisors and department committee members can also register for free. To obtain a promotional code to use during registration, or for more information, contact Suzanne Exstrom at 308.865.8739 or

To register, go to


Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454,
Source: Maha Younes, 308.865.8741,