VA Senior Center Grows 'Environmental Wellness' Programs
Thursday, June 1, 2023
As the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, senior centers in Virginia are welcoming back their participants, and one in particular has shifted some of its focus to the environment.
A National Council on Aging survey found senior centers provide a sense of connectedness for older people who might otherwise face barriers to making friends and being part of their community.
Charlottesville's Center at Belvedere offers myriad services and programs, but has taken a keen focus on environmental wellness.
Peter Thompson, executive director of the Center at Belvedere, said the programs have become a staple of the center's activities.
"Environmental wellness is a part of our mission," Thompson explained. "It's part of our program model that environmental wellness is important, just as spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual, etc. It's long been a part of our history."
The Center has partnered with the Piedmont Master Gardeners to develop a horticulture club. The club helps people become better home gardeners and help work on a pollinator garden. Other programs in the same vein include bird watching.
Thompson pointed out reaction to the programs has been favorable. He noted the Center's mission is to ensure people have access to information, and then trust they will do the best they can with it. He describes how people have taken this information into their own lives.
"Our participants approach us and say, 'I want to learn more about this,'" Thompson observed. "They trust us to be a neutral source of, you know, 'Here's the information.'"
He added the Center itself is also working to become more environmentally conscious. In partnership with the Community Climate Collaborative's Green Business Alliance, they have established their own climate goals. They are working to reduce operating costs by "greening" their energy use and using solar and other renewable forms of power.
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