Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Strengthening community with personal flags

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They've toured in 131 countries across the globe, but this week, Up With People is in Sioux Falls. The multinational group isn't just here for business they are also spreading a little joy before their weekend concert.

Mixed with the vintage crowd are few young faces. Those smiles belong to members of Up With People, the international singing group who helped make the day of residents at Avera Prince of Peace retirement community.

"This is something that is really important for our residents because we get an extra set of hands to do big projects like this that we don't normally get." said Tessa Curry, the activities and volunteers coordinator at Avera Prince of Peace.

"It is a demographic of people that may be our forgotten about sometimes in a way, so it's great for us to come and bring our internationality and be a light to the people here and kind of bring that energy." said Diane Goldsmith, the show manager and vocal instructor for Up With People.

Community service is at the heart of Up With People's mission and helping make connections is the idea behind today's activity. Each resident got a chance to design their own personal flag.

"They said draw what you like so I drew being in the mountains, the Black Hills or any place." said Alan Rickert, an Avera Prince of Peace resident.

On a sheet of paper, Alan began drawing his happy memories and the moments that describe and define him.

"This is the control tower which I was a part of over in Japan during the Korean War." said Rickert.

The idea of personal flags is two-fold. One, It's good occupational therapy for the population. Two, each drawn symbol helps give the residents a better understanding of themselves and one another.

"So through that process we talk about what are the things that make us strong as individuals, what are the things that we have in common with others, and through that we kind of talk the group through what could that mean for our community." said Goldsmith.

With members from the United States, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, the group definitely has plenty of international flair. For many of the residents, the experience brings up old memories of traveling the globe. For others, the conversation itself is all they need.

"This is a very enjoyable having so many guests! They are all very nice and talkative." said Rickert.

With each personal flag completed, they are all brought together to form a brand new flag. An even bigger symbol that defines and unites the folks here at Avera Prince of Peace.

"I just want to thank Up With People for coming here and spending their time with us and being so open and so caring to our residents they have really shown themselves up they are great great kids." said Curry.

The Up With People 'Gift of Hope' concert is this Sunday with shows at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Tickets to can be purchased at Hy-Vee grocery stores and found online at upwithpeople.org. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.