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Senior Center Wins National Award

American Society on Aging will honor center for creative programming aimed at keeping aging minds sharp.

A mental health program offered by the will be honored for its innovative approach at a conference in Washington, D.C. on March 29, the center has announced.

The purpose of the center’s Lifelong Learning Program is to actively engage seniors’ minds, said activities coordinator Lucy Van Horn. The program was selected as winner of the 2012 MindAlert Award, sponsored by the American Society on Aging in conjunction with MetLife.

The award’s review committee deemed the program “innovative and unique,” said committee member Ruth Heller, who is program director for the University of Oregon’s Osher Lifelong Learning Center.

A recent installment of the Glen Cove Senior Center’s program involved singing and reminiscing about pop culture topics of the last century – activities meant to help keep people’s brains working as they age.

“Research has shown that cognitive decline is not an inevitable part of the aging process,” the center said in a press release. “New findings in brain health research offer a striking, newer model of aging as a time of brain health and growth in which elders may lead qualitatively richer lives – lives filled with more knowledge, wisdom, and an increased capacity to contribute to society.”

Dale Zurbrick, a former Glen Cove High School music teacher, has led the program at the center six times per year since retiring in 2002.

"The first time I came here, I was surprised when everybody sang along out loud to the songs I was playing, and I've been coming ever since," he said.

Van Horn hopes such activities will convince more local seniors to get out of their homes and down to the center to take part.

"Our motto is that you never have to stop growing as you age," said Van Horn. "We have a dedicated staff and we try to awaken new interests in all of our members. Maybe it's music, gardening or traveling. After living such exciting lives, nobody should feel they have to sit at home and watch television. They can be down here, learning, socializing and having fun."

John Denigris is a participant in the program and has been a member of the center since he moved to Glen Cove two decades ago.

"I love it," he said. "There's always something fun and interesting going on down here."

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