City of Milton’s senior program expands, seeks accreditation

Published on July 19, 2016 with No Comments




Walking into the Guy Thompson Community Center on any given weekday morning, you’ll be greeted with a smile from Joe Paschal, senior citizens coordinator for the City of Milton.

“How are you today?” Paschal asked a participant as she walked through the door. He was busy attending to the needs of the seniors arriving at the center to join in the Tai Chi or Yoga classes. He said he enjoys interacting with seniors, helping them keep active and learn new things.

Paschal said the center has around 200 seniors actively participating Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“It’s never dull, that’s for sure,” he said.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is seeking to receive accreditation from the National Council on Aging for the community center. The accreditation is important for the center, Paschal said, because it will open the door for other opportunities. The senior activities program focuses on socialization, healthy futures and education.

“Right now we’re planning for another inter-generational event called Mentor Up, which local college students will assist seniors with mobile technology. Items like tablets and cell phones can be frustrating for them. They know they aren’t taking full advantage of new technology’s capabilities, so sometimes they need help. With this upcoming activity, we provide one-on-one time with young adults who do know how these things work,” he said.

Paschal said the city began bringing senior activities on board about 2 years ago when he suggested introducing a Bingo game.

“It began organically with 2 or 3 players. Pickleball, a racquet sport combining elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis, began in the gym and stories began appearing in the local paper. Word of mouth helped a lot,” he said.

Currently, the center provides activities such as yoga, pickleball, senior tennis, Tai Chi, bridge club, chair aerobics, movie matinee, fine artist gathering, cards, line dancing and a writer’s group.

Paschal said with the fast growth, the city began having growing pains.

“We have limited space. Accessibility to the front door is difficult for seniors. It’s a long walk across the parking lot, especially for someone with a walker,” he said.

Brian Watkins, city manager, said the need for expansion is real.

“The city purchased an additional 30 acres next to the community center 2 or 3 years ago with a sportsplex in mind. After surveying the community at public meetings, we found the main thing people wanted was more community center space,” he said.

The preliminary design for the expansion of the sportsplex includes a significant expansion of the center.

“As Joe has expanded senior activities, we realized we need more space for it to grow. This is a much needed program and an important part of our community,” said Watkins.

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