EATON — Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) offers a large schedule of events which members and non-members alike can sign up for and enjoy. Counted in those are various art classes that allow seniors to dip their toes into simple art projects, all while reaping the benefits these classes can provide to all people.
According to Senior Center Manager Stacey Fullmer, PCCOA considers it their duty to offer all kinds of classes and activities to interest different seniors and keep them active, interested, and having fun.
“It is important for the Senior Center to offer everything for seniors — so art is just one aspect. It is something that is available to us, so why not take advantage of having the community be involved and have our seniors be happy?” Fuller asked.
“[Art classes] are a way to reach the seniors creative side and to give them something they enjoy. Art, for me, relaxes me and I hope it does that for them too. It could be an education thing, as some people are scared to start a new thing without being shown and this gives the opportunity for that senior to start a project, if they haven’t done something like it before,” she said.
“Art can help with dementia, or Alzheimer’s, hand and eye coordination, and many other things. People seem really happy when they take these classes. Everyone who takes them says they have a fun time doing it, especially the wine and design that we do in the evening. They get to paint and socialize with other people. They light up when they’re doing this.”
Classes are offered by a variety of different organizations and individual instructors. This also allows for a variety of projects offered — from painting a portrait to painting a pumpkin, to more unique projects like decorating a quilt block.
In mid-September, Heidi Flory taught a quilt painting class with dot mandala. This class is part of a series, where at the end participants will walk away with 12 different quilt blocks and be able to do a 18×24 painting.
At press time, Flory highlighted the benefits of socialization in taking art classes and how successfully completing a piece can by food for self confidence.
“I think, not only is the socialization good for seniors, but especially with this type of art medium, it is great for hand eye coordination. They can really take their time and go step by step. It is a confidence booster, I think, because it is a medium people can really get into and do their own thing, but come away with a piece that is pretty successful,” Flory said.
Also in mid-September, the Preble County Art Association taught a canvas painting. This course was actually instructed by PCAA Executive Director Vicky Fanberg. Like Flory, Fanberg described the class as “step by step.”
She added, this helps make art more “recreational” and less “intimidating.”
For her, PCAA’s partnership with the Senior Center is invaluable because they are able to provide art classes for seniors – which bring immeasurable benefits – in a safe environment the senior’s feel comfortable in.
“It is important for the seniors to have access to art. Being in this environment is comfortable and easy environment for them to get to, because of the relationship the Senior Center has with our seniors. Being able to come in here and do projects helps us reach an audience we might otherwise not get and gives seniors access to things they are getting,” Fanberg said.
“There is a lot of research, that we know, that says art positively affects people. It is good for everybody. When you get to make art, you go through this creative problem solving process,” she said. “From very young kids all the way up to seniors, it is very beneficial because it is getting your brain activity going.
“It is also an opportunity to relax and enjoy a process. That can be very beneficial emotionally. Even people going through different struggles in life, that process can be healing to have that moment to let go and have fun with making choices without there being consequences to those decisions.”
Participant Shari McKinney said, “I’ve really enjoyed being here and would like to come back. The people have been very welcoming and nice. I would highly recommend anybody take an art class with the Senior Center.
“Art classes keep everyone’s minds active and gives them the opportunity to interact with others. We have the YMCA for people who need physical stimulation, which is fabulous, but the mind isn’t always developed unless people make a point to do this, which is what [PCCOA] is doing.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH