Creative Aging Expands Offerings


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

Creative Aging (creativeaging.org) 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.

“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 January-May pilot program, 85 people from ages 63-94 participated in the classes. “We’ve gotten great feedback,” says Arnold, “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 offers Story Telling; an eight-week session at Temple Beth Shalom, 12202 N. 101st Ave. in Sun City on Thursdays, starting Oct. 19, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. These classes are 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.

Arnold will teach Readers Theatre at both Temple Beth Shalom for eight weeks on Mondays, starting Oct. 23, as well as an additional session on Tuesdays at the Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. 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,” Arnold says. “It allows you to be any age or background – and there’s no memorization!”

New this year is the formation of a Senior Chorus that will meet on Thursday mornings at Temple Chai, 4645 E. Marilyn Road in Phoenix, starting Oct. 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.” The chorus will be led by Dan Kurek, who has 35 years’ experience teaching music and who has been the Temple Chai choir director for eight years.

All classes are open to adults 60 or older. Registration fees vary. Registration is available by calling Janet Arnold at 480-599-7198, emailing her at janet.arnold@jfcsaz.org or visiting the JFCS website at jfcsaz.org/creativeaging.

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

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