WHEATON – Although already up and running and classes have begun, Jan. 24 marked the official opening of the Wheaton Senior Center, which is located in the new Wheaton Community Recreation Center on Georgia Avenue.
To celebrate the occasion, the recreation center, which also is home to a library and gym facilities, held an open house featuring mini demonstrations of its programs for seniors.
Throughout the three-hour open house, seniors could participate or watch fitness workshops, pottery studio demonstrations, dances, Zumba classes and pickleball.
“We are thrilled to launch our senior center,” declared Robin Riley, director of the county’s Department of Recreation.
Riley noted that on a recent day, 85 seniors participated in the center’s various offerings.
This is the county’s seventh senior center. Others are located in Damascus, Holiday Park, Long Branch, Silver Spring, North Potomac and White Oak.
County Executive Marc Elrich said the opening showed “our commitment to seniors in our county.” He noted that people 55 years and older make up 28% of the county’s population.
“I am one of them. I have been a senior for a while,” he declared.
More than 10 years ago, during the recession, funds were cut to senior programming, Elrich said. “We are still working putting them back in. This is a long haul back from where we should be.”
He called programs for seniors “one of our top priorities,” which he said was an example of how welcoming Montgomery County is to all.
Elrich said he particularly liked this new center, because “it is in a multigenerational environment” that features programs for residents of all ages.
He noted that the number and types of “programs are still evolving.”
It is important for seniors to remain active, he said, pointing out that the county’s senior centers offer opportunities for participants to be social and continue learning and exercising.
“It is really a gem to have this,” he said before touring the facility, which features large, open and well-lit spaces.
The senior center offers a nutritious lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays for those 60 years and older.
Upcoming talks at the Speaker’s Series concern nutrition, heart health and fire safety.
Besides many fitness and health classes, seniors can learn how to work with clay.
There also are travel programs, information and referral assistance, and volunteer opportunities.
“The greater Wheaton-Glenmont community, especially the growing and diverse senior population that lives here, benefits greatly from activities that improve physical, cognitive, and emotional health,” Councilmember Nancy Navarro said.