This story was originally published in the Winston-Salem Chronicle on January 6, 2022.
Senior Services will be providing arts classes for seniors at its 2895 Shorefair Drive location in Winston-Salem beginning in January. The nonprofit’s administrative office now includes a Creative Connections Studio to provide space for acting lessons, visual arts classes, and hand drumming lessons. These artistic courses will be offered free of charge to local seniors who are age 60 and above. Additional classes will be added throughout the year.
Senior Services is launching this program in response to research which indicates that the arts and creative expression strongly promote healthy aging. For instance, participation in the arts has been shown to lower the risk of the onset of dementia, decrease perceptions of pain, help to relieve stress, and improve mood. Additionally, participating in the arts decreases social isolation and provides meaning and purpose as individuals have an inherent need to engage in self-expression.
There’s also an important correlation between the sense of mastery and control which is gained from participation in the arts, and positive health outcomes for all seniors, including those living with dementia. “Senior Services has successfully used arts programming to combat social isolation and improve the quality of life of its program participants in a focused and deliberate manner since 2015,” said Melissa Smith, director of Senior Services’ Creative Connections program. The organization is partnering with the Sawtooth School of Visual Arts, 40+ Stage Company, and Aaron Bachelder, a local drumming instructor, in this endeavor to bring artistic expression to older adults in our community.
Many senior residents experienced a great deal of social isolation and depression due to the social distancing requirements of the pandemic. The in-person classes will allow seniors to re-engage in the community by interacting with others while learning something new and having fun. The classes are designed for people of all artistic backgrounds, including people with no experience in the arts at all. Classes will be conducted in accordance with state and local guidelines related to COVID-19, including proof of vaccination and wearing a mask.
Here is the schedule of classes being offered:
- Acting lessons will take place from 1-2 p.m. on Tuesdays from Jan. 11-Feb. 15.
- A gelatin printmaking class will be held on Thursday, Jan. 20 from 10 a.m.-noon.
- Chalk pastels will be taught on Thursday, Feb. 17,from 10 a.m.-noon.
- Hand drumming lessons take place Mondays and Wednesdays, Feb. 28-April 6, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- A silk scarf dying class will take place Thursday, March 17, from 10 a.m.-noon.
Please visit www.seniorservicesinc.org for more information. Sign up to participate by calling Melissa Smith, Creative Connections director, at 336-721-6954.