You’re only as old as you think. It’s a somewhat tired cliché, but never before has it been truer, especially with the myriad of opportunities to engage in activities designed to keep people “young at heart.”
Part of the reason for the rise in new programs and activities is a nod to the state’s changing demographics. According to the Carsey Institute, the state’s age structure foretells that a rapid increase in the senior population is “inevitable and coming soon.” The Granite State population age 65 and over will double in the next 20 years while the number of children in the state diminished over the past decade.
Another, perhaps more exciting reason, is the fact that today’s senior center offers a great deal more variety in terms of programming, trips and opportunities for relationship building. Today, GoodLife Programs and Activities at the Centennial Senior Center offers everything from Pilates and Tai Chi to art classes and guided tours of Europe. In addition, a variety of special workshops centering around subjects such as staying safe behind the wheel, the benefits of meditation and understanding wills, are developed based on participants’ interests and needs.
The success of perse and engaging programs lies in the numbers. Over the past year alone, the center has gone from about 60 active participants to nearly 1,000. We have emerged from a period of financial duress to a virtual rebirth where we have been able to move into a new location on North State Street which is open five days a week, 10 hours a day.
Over the past year, we have offered more than 185 classes and activities at low or no cost. In fact, more than 80 percent of our activities are offered at a cost of less than $5 per class. That programming affordability has allowed us to grow from four core classes to over 20. Our email list has grown to over 1,200 and the open rate for our weekly e-blasts is an impressive 20 percent.
What’s even more heartening is that GoodLife has become a community hub not only for those traditionally identified as senior citizens, but also for those who are just entering their fifties. Recognizing that a modern approach is necessary to build participation, we now offer yoga classes, computer instruction, open studio art and Wii bowling. We also provide opportunities for participants to travel to Providence’s “Little Italy,” Niagara Falls, the North Shore Music Theatre and Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass.
We’re proud to be celebrating our first anniversary at our new location and of what the Centennial Senior Center has become and how the community has embraced our goal and mission and our new name, GoodLife Programs and Activities.