05/26/05 — Older Americans Month observed

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Older Americans Month observed

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 26, 2005 1:45 PM

More than 100 senior citizens gathered at Herman Park on Wednesday to celebrate Older American's Month.

City Councilman Charles Williams was on hand to congratulate the seniors, as they walked from gate to gate in the park. Frankie Moye, representing Congressman Walter Jones, brought greetings to the group from the congressman.

Before the walk, Stacia Fields from the city's recreation department, led the seniors in a series of warm-up exercises.

Wednesday's Senior Fitness Walk and picnic culminated a month of activities designed to honor older Americans.

Wayne County's Services on Aging department, the city's Parks and Recreation department and WAGES, joined together to provide a number of activities for the month.

Those activities included a health fair on May 18 at Berkeley Mall, a dance May 16 at Herman Park and Wednesday's walk and picnic.

Ninety-eight year-old Sallie Bryant said she went to the dance, but didn't attempt to take to the dance floor.

"They would have had to pick me up if I did that," she said. "I can just stand up for a few minutes."

Even though she didn't dance, she enjoyed the fellowship. At 98, she continues to live on her own and participates regularly in activities at the Senior Center.

"I knit, crochet, sew and go to Bible study," she said. "I do all of it."

She credits her long life, not to diet or exercise, but to "serving God."

Seniors Hattie Leather, 91, and Genivive Joyner, 85, joined the group for the picnic at Herman Park.

"I don't walk a lot or dance," said Ms. Joyner. "But I enjoy going to the Senior Center to eat and sing in the choir."

When the U.S. began officially recognizing its senior population in 1963, only 17 million citizens had reached their 65th birthday.

By 2002, the 65 years and older population numbered 35.6 million, and by the year 2030 it's projected that the senior population will more than double to exceed 70 million.

In Wayne County, there are about 18,000 residents over the age of 60.

The 2005 Older Americans Month theme, "Celebrate Long-term Living," was chosen by the Administration on Aging to recognize and honor the contributions of older persons to their communities.

"Our services are available to any adults, 60 years or older, and the programs are free," said Yvonne McLamb, director of Services on Aging.