A legacy of lifetime learning

Broadening senior horizons

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  • | 9:41 a.m. July 2, 2013
Photo by: ALLISON OLCSVAY - Morse Museum Curator Donna Climenhage takes Leadership Legends participants on a tour of the new wing, featuring works from Louis Comfort Tiffany's estate home, Laurelton Hall.
Photo by: ALLISON OLCSVAY - Morse Museum Curator Donna Climenhage takes Leadership Legends participants on a tour of the new wing, featuring works from Louis Comfort Tiffany's estate home, Laurelton Hall.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Everyone loves a field trip, no matter their age. There’s something about leaving the routine behind and exploring something new that never gets old.

A group of 10 Winter Park seniors gathered as eager as any gaggle of third graders for their final field trip together as members of the most recent Leadership Legends program last month.

Former strangers greeted each other as friends as they readily discussed the details of the day ahead. Steady steps up into a bus, and a passed out lunches, they group was ready and off to spend the day sightseeing the best of what Winter Park has to offer.

The Leadership Legends program makes a point that learning new things isn’t an activity reserved just for kids or young adults. Coordinators say the program is designed to encourage livelong learning, introducing older adults to their community in a brand new way.

Based on the popular Leadership Winter Park program – a community-awareness project for business leaders – Leadership Legends incorporates the best of the original program in a package designed for seniors said Jana Ricci, Leadership alumni council member and marketing director for the Mayflower retirement community.

Each Leadership Winter Park class takes on a project that will become their legacy, and for class 20 it was Leadership Legends. At the time, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce was offering Leadership Winter Park for adults and Youth Leaders for teenagers, but nothing for seniors.

“We thought it would be a wonderful way to engage older adults in the community,” said Winter Park Chamber President Patrick Chapin.

Legend participants said they were grateful for the Leadership program’s new offerings to include seniors.

“The idea of including us old people is very flattering!” participant Barbara Elrod said, her smile wide.

With the help of a $4,000 grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation in 2011, Leadership Winter Park class 20 kicked off the program to offer seniors a look behind the scenes of their community. Chapin said the grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation was instrumental in getting the program off the ground.

The Legends program costs $50 and meets once a week for four weeks. The bang for your buck, participant Berta Hall said, made the program irresistible.

The next Leadership Legends class is in the spring of 2014, for more information visit the Winter Park Chamber’s website at winterpark.org

“I couldn’t have done all these things myself for $50,” participant Mary Daniels added.

Week one explores the city, its history and some of the unique things it has to offer. Participants learn Winter Park’s storied history while experiencing it for themselves on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour and at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden.

Participant Betty Powell found inspiration in that first week alone.

“I was inspired to paint,” she said. “I do water color and I will use a lot of the pictures I took that day as inspiration.”

Week two focuses on local government, including a visit with the chief of police, the mayor and the city commissioners. Participants got to experience first-hand the work that goes on behind the scenes of city government.

“It gives you the opportunity to learn about how complicated and difficult it is to make decisions,” Daniels said.

Week three is all about health and wellness, sponsored by the Winter Park Health Foundation. They discuss mental and physical health as it pertains to seniors and offers opportunities to explore diet, exercise and wellness best practices.

Week four wraps up the program with content that’s all about education and the arts. Participants heard updates from Rollins Provost and Vice President Dr. Carol Bresnahan, Executive Director of the Winter Park Institute Dr. Gail Sinclair, and Director of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum Dr. Ena Heller. Following lunch they enjoyed a tour of the new wing at the Morse Museum by Curator Donna Climenhage.

“It is an educational journey, really,” Daniels said.