Generations of families bond through art

March 4, 2019
In this Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 photo, five-year-old Mabel Scurlock decorates a slab of clay with her grandmother, Jolene Hansen, of Rochester, while making a bowl during a Grandparent and Me class in Rochester, Minn. (Andrew Link/The Rochester Post-Bulletin via AP)

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — Jolene Hanson and Mabel Scurlock shared a single focus as they created a bowl formed from clay cutouts of their hands. The grandmother and granddaughter made sure the fingers were intertwined.

“This is a chance to do something unique with her,” Hanson told the Post-Bulletin of the recent Grandparent and Me class at 125 Live.

Since they started last month, the Grandparent and Me classes have seen a growing interest, but the class taught by Anna Kjose was the first offered during a weekend, drawing six intergenerational teams for an afternoon of art.

Other classes, which are taught by Angela Krueger, have been held on Monday mornings, catering to grandparents with preschool children.

“They are slowly gaining momentum,” said Chad Allen, 125 Live’s director of community engagement and member outreach.

He said the program was born out of members’ desires to find ways to engage younger family members at the facility.

“They really want to spend time out of the house,” he said.

Kjose said that in April, she’s planning to offer evening and Saturday classes aimed at older children and their grandparents or parents.

“I tried to open it a little more for people,” she said of the alternate schedule.

While all Grandparent and Me classes have centered on the 125 Live ceramics studio, Allen said efforts are underway to branch out to other art forms, including drawing, painting and photography.

Patty Gilmore, who was at the recent class with granddaughter Annagrace Skrukrud, said she liked hearing more options would be offered.

She said she recently renewed her 125 Live membership for the fitness activities and was happy to find a new way to connect with her grandchildren.

“We do a lot of stuff together,” said Annagrace, who added this was a new opportunity to connect with art.

Another monthly option for connecting generations has been 125 Live’s monthly Free Family Day. On the second Saturday of each month, the facility opens its doors for a few hours to anyone who wants to take part in family-oriented events.

Allen said that means members can bring children and grandchildren to the facility for Zumba classes or to take advantage of the art studios.

While concerns were raised when 125 Live opened doors of its $26 million-plus facility in November 2016 to younger members, Allen said the shift from a senior center to a center for active adults has been embraced by its members.

“A lot of our members have been requesting we program outside the age range,” he said, noting the center still offers lower rates and more activity times for members over 50.

The minimum age for membership is 18.

In November, Ken Baerg, 125 Live’s operations director, said the average age of a member is 68.7 years old, which is down from 75 at the former senior center.

“The reason it dropped from 75 to 68 isn’t because of an influx of 18- and 20-year-olds, but an influx of 55- to 65-year-olds,” he told the Rochester City Council, shortly after membership numbers topped 2,000.

Membership fees drop at age 50.

Allen said 125 Live membership is now approximately 2,500 and the organization hopes to have 3,000 members by the end of the year.

While activities are being added for children — from art camps when school is scheduled to be out to Parents Night Out events that offer activities for children while parents are away — 125 Live Executive Director Sylwia Bujak Oliver said plenty of activities are still designed only for adults.

She said the goal is to provide opportunities for members with differing perspectives, which can be challenging.

For her part, Gilmore said the mix of offerings serves her needs well.

“It’s an opportunity to meet people your own age in similar circumstances in life, but you also get to bring your grandchild,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”


Information from: Post-Bulletin, http://www.postbulletin.com