Opinion

Bellingham Senior Activity Center provides community health, fun

What immediately comes to mind when you hear the word “senior”? Do you picture people hiking up to the top of Oyster Dome or engaging in intellectual discussion groups? What about world travelers going to exotic places and expanding their mindsets? Well, these are exactly some of the things members do at the Bellingham Senior Activity Center. It’s a place of vibrancy and fun, filled with people who have active minds and are creating a place of community and friendship.

Bellingham Senior Activity Center is meant to be an opportunity for people age 50 and beyond but the word “senior” seems to be a consistent block for some people. The challenge seems to lie in our society’s associations and biases towards seniors, as well as how young and robust so many people remain as they age. Most individuals in their 50s and 60s in the U.S. do not associate with the word. However, if you talk to many of our members they’ll argue that they are far from being “a senior;” they are active and youthful in many ways. Come see the hiking shoes, gym shoes and dancing shoes; the vibrant discussion groups; the laughter and joy.

As enjoyable and stimulating as the activities at Bellingham Senior Activity Center are, the truth is that the most valuable thing offered at the center is a place of community and friendship. Research shows that community is an essential component to maintaining good health as we age. One study conducted by Harvard researchers that was published in the American Journal of Public Health found that social ties could actually enhance brain health. Another study conducted by Lynn Giles and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported that older adults who had a “large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.” So, just as you would go to a gym to achieve a better physical health, it is important to have a routine to build your community health as well. You can do both at Bellingham Senior Activity Center. Lifelong friendships are created at Bellingham Senior Activity Center. People come in every day to have fun and share life with one another. Between yoga, local and international trips, painting, Zumba, creative writing, hiking and so much more, there is truly something for everyone.

That being said, we have decided to create new opportunities at Bellingham Senior Activity Center aimed specifically for people who may still be in the workforce. In addition to opening our doors on Saturdays, we are extending our hours on Tuesday evenings. Also, we are looking at adding new activities and classes for these new hours, such as film clubs, book clubs, paint and sips, dance lessons, chocolate making classes and even local brewery tours. Our goal is to create a center where someone in their 50s and 60scan meet new friends, try something new and add a little fun to their weekly routine.

It is often said that the Bellingham Senior Activity Center is one of the best kept secrets of Bellingham; however, we believe the center shouldn’t be a secret at all! May is Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme is “Get Into the Act” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act. Older Americans Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of community engagement as a tool for enhancing the wellbeing of older adults. Bellingham Senior Activity Center wants to take this opportunity to show the community that we’re so much more than a “senior center.” We offer so much and serve a variety of people, many who don’t quite consider themselves “seniors.” Come by the center and take a look for yourself; there’s a place in our community for everyone.

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