Recently I had a conversation with a resident of a senior living community who told me she LOVED living there. As someone with an elderly parent and in-laws not so enthused about exploring different living options, I was uplifted.
The conversation occurred at the Nippenose Valley Village outside Williamsport in rural Lycoming County — a former red brick elementary school tucked in among farm fields and woods.
The former Nippenose Valley Elementary School closed in 2013. The building and grounds were purchased and refurbished as a personal care home.
The building rehabilitation itself is a cool story, but we were there to highlight the facility as a great model of how to provide opportunities for seniors and young people to interact and stay healthy.
Picture the seniors living in the rehabilitated school having their meals in the dining area immediately adjacent and open to the former gym with basketball court — where community members are walking laps, or kids from the recreational basketball team are practicing.
Facilities at the building are offered for use by the community, including for clubs, athletics and scout groups.
In the coming year, with the help of a DCNR grant, residents getting some fresh air also will be able to watch visiting young family members, or families from the community, play on the upgraded playground equipment and park created from the old school playground.
The playground area was leased by the private owners to Limestone Township, which applied for the grant and provided some of the required match. The funding will support development of play equipment with required safety surfacing, landscaping, and other related site improvements. Future plans could include development of trails and walking paths around the building and grounds.
An internet search tells me that an estimated 50 percent of the U.S. population will be 50 or older this year. Also consider that with stiff competition from organized activities and screens of all types, teenagers, pre-teens and even young children need encouragement to be active like never before.
In the face of pressing public health concerns relating to obesity, adequate places to engage in physical activity are important to all ages.
Some communities are to be applauded for embracing the construction of “multigenerational centers” with amenities that appeal to young and old alike.
Nippenose Valley Park is proof that a smaller scale model, with a healthy dose of creativity, can bring seniors and young people together at a recreational site, offering exercise and wellness for all ages.