Creative Aging Expands Offerings


Jewish Family & Children’s Service is offering a new and expanded session of Creative Aging classes for the fall, beginning Sept. 5.

Creative Aging is a national initiative based on studies showing that older adults live longer and better if they are actively involved in the Arts. The movement is aimed at fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and quality of life for older adults. (creativeaging.org)

“JFCS is dedicated to helping to ensure the highest quality of life for people at any age,” says Ellie Schwartzberg, JFCS Vice President of Older Adults and Jewish Community Services. “Our pilot program this past spring went so well; we’re pleased that we could find additional funding to enable JFCS to continue this creative line of services for older adults.”

“According to the US Census Bureau, one in four people in Arizona will be over age 60 by the year 2020,” reports Janet Arnold, JFCS Director of the Creative Aging program. “We need to find innovative ways to keep our older adults actively engaged. Creative Aging is based on an ‘assets approach’ to aging, emphasizing what “can” be done rather than what limitations there might be.”
In the Jan-May pilot program, 85 people from ages 63-94 participated in the classes. “We’ve gotten great feedback,” says Janet, “from comments like ‘I need this class for my mental health!’ to “I’m having a great time, and my kids are so happy I’m taking this class!’”

Increasing its geographic circle to include Sun City, the program will offer 2 sections of Story Telling – an 8-week session at Congregation Beth Israel (56th St. & Shea) on Wednesdays, starting Sept. 6, from 10 am-noon and also at Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City on Tuesdays, 10:30-12:30. These classes will be taught by Kim Porter, who is an award-winning playwright and performer, and was recently named Best Storyteller by the Phoenix New Times. Kim says, “I’ve always wanted to run a workshop for seniors as I have a real passion for the organization of personal narrative and the transformation that comes from seeing the events in our lives through the filter of story.” Story Telling is a widely-popular artistic discipline which involves both creative writing and performing.

Also on Wednesdays, Vocal Music will be taught by Dan Kurek at Temple Chai in north Phoenix. Dan has been musical director for a number of theatres in the Valley, as well as being Choir Director for Temple Chai for the past seven years. He is also involved in a new program called “Songs by Heart” which brings music into the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. “Dan is a perfect match for all we hope to accomplish with our Creative Aging classes,” Arnold states. The class will be limited to 12 to allow time for individualized coaching as well as group songs. First class is Sept. 6.

New this year is the formation of a Senior Chorus that will meet on Thursday mornings at Temple Chai starting October 19. “The purpose of the chorus,” Arnold states, “is to spread as much sunshine as possible while giving participants a chance to sing and socialize in a group. The repertoire will include Broadway, American songbook and rock & roll. The chorus will be available to sing at a variety of events.”

Janet Arnold will teach Readers’ Theatre on Mondays in Sun City, starting Sept. 11 and on Tuesdays at the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, starting Sept. 5. Arnold was the founding Producing Director of the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company and has over 30 years experience in the theatre community as a producer, director, actor and teacher. Readers’ Theatre is acting out plays with script in hand. “Readers’ Theatre is great fun,” Janet says. “It allows you to be any age or background – and there’s no memorization!”

All classes are open to adults 60 or older. Registration fees vary. Registration is available on the JFCS website: jfcsaz.org/creativeaging, by contacting janet.arnold@jfcsaz.org, or calling 480-599-7198.

Funding for the classes has been generously donated by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix.

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