Harrisburg, PA – Today, Pennsylvania Department of Aging Acting Secretary Robert Torres and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) Executive Director Karl Blischke visited the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Senior Adult Club's Artist Residency Program to sit in on a professionally instructed art class with local seniors. The program was developed by the Department of Aging and the PCA's Creative Aging partnership for a research project, which ultimately found that seniors reported decreased instances of loneliness after participating in the classes.
Creative Aging's purpose is to engage older adults age 55 and up in professionally run art programs that focus on social engagement and varying skills mastery. This provides older adults with an opportunity to freely and creatively express themselves through visual, literary, and performing arts workshops.
"Sitting in on today's class was such a privilege," said Acting Secretary Torres. "The participating seniors created some very impressive pieces of art and were so encouraging with each other as they worked. It's clearly a program that they look forward to for many reasons, and provides for an environment of socializing, inspiration, and support."
"This class is a wonderful example of the ability of the arts to engage older adults in experiences that can enrich their lives and bring them together," said Blischke.
Cheryl Kugler is currently running an artist residency at JCC, where she works closely with small groups on both individual and long-term projects. She is instructing from May through September at JCC. The artist's role is to mentor and facilitate classes, leading students through guided self-discovery. Each class provides an experience in a different facet of art.
Studies show the benefits of arts engagement for seniors include:
- Fewer doctor visits and hospital stays
- Less use of medication
- Better morale and decrease in feelings of loneliness and isolation
- A trend toward increased activity
The JCC Senior Adult Club has participated in the Artists Residency Program for the past two years, facilitated the PCA's Arts in Education partnership, which places professional artists in a variety of settings for 10-20 sessions per residency. Jump Street works with PCA to place professional artists in different settings for 10 classes. JCC Senior Adult Club participants initially enjoyed the program so much that a new 15-class program was introduced.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania Council on Arts – Arts in Education division and artist residencies here.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania Department of Aging here.
Media Contacts: Rachel Wrigley, PA Department of Aging, 717-783-6210
Norah Johnson, PA Council on the Arts, 717-585-4713