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Active Life center looks to expand programming

WEST POINT — On any given day, one might see groups of seniors solving puzzles, shooting pool or engaging in friendly conversation around one of the lunch tables at the West Point Active Life Center.

The center is there for just that purpose, getting people over the age of 55 out of their homes and into an environment where moving around and socializing is encouraged by peers and staff.

To further engage their ever growing members with more structured enrichment, Activities Coordinator Carmen Rogers and Site Administrator Zelma Brock are in the process of starting weekly programs, and they could use some help.

“It’s getting to the point where we are big enough to have programming,” Rogers said. “But in order for us to do that, we have to have volunteers from our community who are willing to come in and help us.”

With art and exercise programs in the works thanks to grants, Rogers said that they are looking for people to lend a hand with class instruction a couple times a week. She said that while they are accumulating the supplies, it is now the know-how that they need.

“We need someone who can come in and work with the seniors who knows what they’re doing,” Rogers said. “Someone who can help build this program and make it work.”

Fortunately, getting volunteers will be the final piece of the puzzle, as the Active Life Center has used their 501c3 nonprofit status to their advantage. Rogers has received grants for weights and resistance bands to help with the exercises and said that the LaGrange Art Museum has been a major help by providing art supplies and ideas that went into development of the program.

Rogers said that these two programs have such an emphasis placed on them because of the benefits they will provide for Active Life members. She pointed out the importance of exercise in all age groups and noted the benefits that art and creative expression can have on the mind.

“After a certain age all adults start to develop a memory problem, might develop social anxiety if they lose a spouse, or they might isolate themselves…” she said. “Art therapy is actually a program that has been proven to help with things like depression, anxiety and socialization skills. It has also been proven to help with improving memory.”

The Active Life Center is actively working on these programs, but Brock said that they are open to any and all ideas the community might have, if someone is willing to help get them started. She said that they conduct polls to gauge interest and have gotten ideas from local churches, groups and individuals.

Both Brock and Rogers are excited for the prospect of these new programs, and encourage anyone with experience in teaching exercise or art classes, an idea in mind for a class and a little bit of patience to reach out to the Active Life Center if they feel they can help.

“Whether it helps [members] mentally, physically or socially, it will help them in some way, and that is a big deal for us,” Rogers said.