Summit County senior center lowers age requirement from 55 to 50 in effort to increase membership
The Summit County Community and Senior Center has lowered its minimum age for senior membership from 55 to 50. The move is meant to increase membership at the center as well as to diversify the member base, which at the moment numbers about 2,000.
The senior center offers community as well as mental and physical stimulation for Summit’s Baby Boomer population. Seniors can participate in a variety of activities ranging from cozier pursuits such as bridge, book clubs and knitting to more active pursuits such as Pilates, day trips and winter sports.
Lorie Williams, manager of the senior center, said lowering the age is meant to help increase membership, but also to open up senior services to a younger group of older adults.
“We’re a very active group trying to entice a younger generation to be involved a little more,” Williams said. “We’re also seeing a lot of people aging out of the center, and we like to get a younger population involved and active so they can get the same benefits everyone else does.”
Williams added that the senior center is accomodating younger seniors, who may still work during the day, by scheduling more programs for nights and weekends.
Becky Hopkins, secretary at the senior center, said that the center regularly puts out a survey see what other activities may appeal to the new, younger members.
“Some people wanted knitting, some people wanted Pilates and some wanted international trips, and we’re working on all of those things,” Hopkins said.
Niki Vincze, senior services program manager, said that along with lowering the age requirement, the center is trying to cater to younger seniors with more active activities.
“We need to think about that active component of a 50-year-old, not just a senior,” Vincze said. “Being active is why we all live up here. We’re not just about knitting programs. We are trying to encourage programs that fit better with the more modern, active lifestyle.”
Vincze said the senior center is also trying to counter commonly held stereotypes about seniors, such as that they lead sedentary lifestyles.
“The stigma of that needs to change,” she said. “For example, people think Meals on Wheels is only for people who are bedridden long-term or forever. But that program also offers help to seniors who got hip replacements or surgery, and they just need a little bit of assistance in the short term. We need to change the stigma that discourages a younger generation from joining.”
The senior center lowered its age requirement last month, and is accepting applications for all seniors 50 and over.
For more details contact the senior center at 970-668-2940 or visit the membership page at SummitSeniorCenter.com/about/about-scsc/membership/.
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