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Creative Aging Classes Broaden Horizons, Offer Connection

Library program helps older adults overcome isolation, is turning libraries into “engagement centers”

“It got me to be alive again, and think, and to be,” says Nana at the beginning of this delightful video about the Creative Aging in America’s Libraries program. “It can’t be any better than that.”

Since 2008, Lifetime Arts has been working to change the stereotype that growing older means entering a period of decline. Its Creative Aging program has been the main vehicle for redefining aging and transforming it into an ideal time for fostering personal growth, enhanced well-being and civic engagement.

Related: Creative Aging program connects life and art

Through support from AARP Foundation, the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and others, what began as a partnership with one New York county library system has now expanded across the country to 21 library systems in 13 states. The program delivers educational workshops and classes led by professional teaching artists to help revitalize older adults’ sense of community and purpose.

“When you get to a certain age, people treat you as invisible,” says Elizabeth, who took the Ageless Improv class at the Grand Central Library in New York City. “Here, you’re very visible…. Your old self comes back again!”

This video highlights a small sample of the classes offered, which have expanded beyond the initial storytelling and drawing classes to include dance, singing, drama, ceramics, print-making and more. It shows what a powerful and positive effect this type of learning has on participants. Besides transforming what it means to age, Lifetime Arts is also transforming lives.

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