By Analiese Kreutzer
Studies have shown that arts education provides health and wellness benefits to older adults. According to the National Institute on Aging, engaging in dance, music, creative writing and other forms of art helps with cognitive function and memory and reduces stress. Participants also benefit from the increased social interaction, and they have higher self-esteem.
If you would like to explore your creative side and reap the benefits, the following resources can help you find nearby classes in dance, art and music as well as writing groups.
Center for the Arts
The Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory in Manassas offers art and dance classes to teens and adults in addition to a program for younger children. Art classes include drawing, watercolors, oil painting, photography and more. Dance classes are available for swing, ballroom, salsa and creative movement. The Center is also home to Rooftop Productions, a community theater group for adults.
The art and dance class durations vary, but many are held once a week for four or five weeks. In addition to classes at the Old Hopkins Candy Factory, the Center holds some classes at Windy Knoll Farm in Nokesville and the Linton Hall School in Bristow. A catalog of courses is available on the Center’s website at www.center-for-the-arts.org.
Contemporary Music Center
Founded on the principle that everyone deserves the chance to learn a musical instrument, the Contemporary Music Center in Haymarket offers lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced students. Individual lessons typically last 30 minutes, and the store has a variety of instruments available to rent or purchase. Contemporary Music Center instructors welcome students of any age. To learn more, go to www.contemporarymusiccenter.com.
Lifelong Learning Institute
The mission of the Lifelong Learning Institute in Manassas is “to establish a community of adults, 50 years of age or older, that provides affordable, educational, and social opportunities in a friendly atmosphere.” LLI-Manassas’ schedule of events changes with each spring and fall semester, but recent classes included flower arranging and a creative writing workshop.
LLI-Manassas is a membership-based organization that charges $125 per year in dues. For more information, go to https://lli-manassas.org/.
Muse Paint Bar
If you want to explore your creativity in a less structured atmosphere while enjoying an evening with friends, head to Muse Paint Bar in Gainesville. Muse hosts painting sessions seven days a week and welcomes all ages. No prior experience is required, and sessions combine painting instruction with a restaurant and bar. Each class is 2 ½ hours and costs between $29 and $40. Most classes are held in the evening, but there are some afternoon classes on weekends. For more information or to register, visit www.musepaintbar.com.
Prince William Public Library
When it comes to learning about anything, public libraries are a great resource. For complete details on all the Prince William Public Library System has to offer older learners, please see Your Golden Years at the Library, also in this issue.
Prince William County is home to two senior centers operated by the Area Agency on Aging. The centers are located in Manassas and Woodbridge, and they sponsor activities and classes specifically designed to enhance health and wellness and strengthen the minds of older adults. If you are interested in dancing, painting, photography, ceramics, crafts and more, Senior Center programs are open to those 55 and older and their spouses, regardless of age. The annual membership fee for county residents is $25, and most classes are free. For more information, visit www.pwcgov.org/seniorcenters.
Write by the Rails
Write by the Rails (WbtR) is the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. The group works to nurture, cultivate and help the local writing community grow. WbtR regularly schedules meetups at a variety of local venues where writers discuss current projects, goals and ways to overcome challenges. WbtR holds workshops and other events that help raise the profile of the local literary community. Membership in WbtR costs $25 per year. To learn more, go to www.wbtr.org.