It is hard to account for all the ways our lives changed since last March.
The Area Agency on Aging and our partner at United Neighborhood Centers began the process of rebranding and revitalizing our senior centers last year. Our old model had us operating in nine locations, serving only about 1,800 people per year. We had no presence at all in the North Pocono community and at others, we were not drawing new guests in. The work took an abrupt detour as centers closed their doors, except for meal distribution, and we began to adjust to life in a pandemic.
A year later, we are more ready than ever to move on and begin a new chapter at our Healthy Aging Campuses, formally known as Senior Centers and Older Adult Activity Centers. Our approach is not one of simply changing a name, it is one of creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment capable of meeting a broad range of an older adults’ needs. The campuses will act as hubs for information sharing, educational opportunities, connections to services, fitness and wellness activities, caregiver support, arts and cultural opportunities — and yes, we still have bingo.
Our three main campuses are the Oppenheim Campus in Scranton, Hillside Campus in Abington, and the soon-to-be open Fallbrook Campus in Carbondale. We are establishing a formal campus in the North Pocono area once we identify a location. These campuses serve all of Lackawanna County and residents are welcome at each location regardless of their address. The main campuses are operated by United Neighborhood Centers and the Area Agency on Aging.
This blended approach allows the two organizations to leverage resources and provide consistent programing at every location. It allows the campuses to serve as a formal entry point for services and information. These campuses are open daily and have special hours for events and activities. They have meals available every day and serve Krispy Kreme coffee.
We also are expanding our satellite campus program as well. Our satellites include the Dunmore, Throop, and Taylor Community Centers. UNC is reopening the satellite campus in Jessup and we are establishing a campus in center city Scranton. Satellite campuses are open anywhere from one to three days per week and have some of the activities offered at the main campus, but do not have the formal services offered at the main campuses.
Health and wellness is a big part of what we are going to concentrate on. If you are registered at Hillside, Fallbrook or the Oppenheim campus, you can participate in exercise classes and other amazing activities at the Jewish Community Center, the Carbondale YMCA and the Greater Scranton YMCA. These classes are specifically to geared to older adults and there is no cost if you are registered at a Healthy Aging Campus.
There is one more exciting thing we want to highlight. Starting April 23 through Oct. 1, we are going to be having pop up campuses at each of the county parks. Group walks, yoga, art classes, mural painting, performing arts and grab and go meals will all be available at the locations in Covington Twp., Greenfield Twp., Scranton and Jermyn. Transportation is available. We will use the outdoor space to socially distance ourselves at the pavilions and throughout the park to socialize safely and enjoy the beautiful park system we all have in Lackawanna County.
The Green House Project, UNC and the county’s Arts and Cultural Department are helping us make this new program happen. Please watch for our schedule and instructions on meal registry and transportation services. We will be rotating through one park every Friday so we can reach as many participants as possible.
Jason Kavulich is the director of Lackawanna County’s Area Agency on Aging. For more information on services available call 570-963-6740.