The Ola and John Hawks Senior Wellness and Activity Center will have a grand opening celebration at 2 p.m. Thursday at 705 Siebenmorgen Road.
Additionally, there will be an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday and a homecoming dance starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Faulkner County Council on Aging. The public is invited to the special activities Thursday and Friday. The dance will have a 70s theme.
Lori Melton, who served as co-chair of the capital campaign for the new center, said, “Seniors are different now. They’re not making quilts and baking pies all the time. They’re very active. They’re on the computer. They want to take classes. Physical fitness is a part of it.”
The new center is certified as a wellness center and has a wellness coordinator on staff, she said. In addition to a fitness center, the facility has dedicated rooms for art and for computers.
“They’ve already increased their attendance by 200 in the month they’ve been open. It appeals to a different crowd. It’s a place that’s very vibrant. It’s a place that’s a lifeline for people. They may come in and meet with their friends and then go out and do other things, but it is the center point of a lot of lives,” she said.
Melton said last year a whole group of seniors from the center went zip lining together for one lady’s 75th birthday.
“There are still some that need more physical assistance than others, but they are a very vibrant group,” she said. “They’re a bouncy, fun-loving group. They love life. They’re retired, and it’s a place for them to just come have fun.”
The old facility opened in 1980 and was well past capacity when the program moved a little over a month ago.
Executive Director Debra Robinson said, “We still have the same great programs that we had before, but they’re a lot more enhanced. We can do many more things. Our goal is to attract the younger senior, to get them coming at an earlier age, get them in the fitness room, get them involved with people and activities, and hopefully that is going to enhance their life and their quality of life.
“We want to lose that stigma of when people think about the senior center they think of people sitting around, playing bingo and not being active. Some college students I’ve talked with have even said, ‘Is it like a nursing home?’ When people see this building and what we have to offer, that stigma is going to go away. There’s something for everyone, from 60 on up to over 100. I’m getting close to senior age too, and I want it to be a place I would want to come when I turn 60 and people not feel fearful or embarrassed about coming.
“Some people say, ‘I’m not old enough to come,’ but we have a wide variety of ages. Everyone can feel comfortable here.”
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)