Winter session of Adventures in Learning begins Jan. 30 at Shepherd's Center of Sumter


If you're 50 years or older, you once again have the opportunity to exercise both your mind and body when the winter session of Adventures in Learning begins at the Shepherd's Center of Sumter on Jan. 30. Classes meet mainly on Thursdays at Trinity United Methodist Church, 226 W. Liberty St., but some meet at other times and locations. All are open to the public with a small membership and class fee.

Executive director Jeanette Roveri-Smith said more than 90 percent of people taking the Adventures in Learning classes or participating in other center activities return each session. Her members, she said, are "50 to 98 years old, but I would say the median age of our active members is 69. Some people are surprised to know you only need to be 50 to join."

Winter's session has four class periods, beginning at 9 a.m., when members can learn crocheting, bead weaving or play pickle ball, a growing phenomenon around the U.S., especially for older people.

In addition to pickle ball, physical activities offered include Sit-Stand & Walking, an exercise class taught by Boo Hardee; line dancing with Jane Collins; and a number of activities offered outside of the Thursday class periods. These include bowling and Wednesday Walkers.

Members can learn skills such as knitting from Cindy Macias; card making from Sharonlyn Moses-Polk; advanced quilting; scrapbooking from Tammy Cornwell; and learn and/or play a variety of board and card games, including canasta, hand and foot, triple play and pinochle with Brenda Wisdom Riley and Dixie Daniels, as well as a class in making suncatchers and silhouettes.

Popular, long-running favorites include Collins' short story classes and Bible study with Brenda Coleman. New this session is Psychology: "The Brain," taught by University of South Carolina Sumter Professor Dr. Salvador Macias. Macias' class will be an ongoing discussion of David Eagleman's book, "The Brain: The Story of You."

Eagleman was featured in a series of programs on PBS in which the neuroscientist explored how the brain's interior makes people "feel and think the way they do why the brain drives people toward certain actions and behaviors. The series also looks at the future, considering what may be next for the human brain and for the human species."

The book can be purchased in paperback at Roveri-Smith can assist in ordering the book.

In addition to the many advantages of taking classes, Roveri-Smith pointed out other benefits of belonging to the Shepherd's Center.

"I would say the No. 1 benefit by far is the socialization aspect, the feeling of camaraderie - many are sharing similar situations; that is, loss of a spouse, retirement, looking for the second act of life and finding the freedom of travel and new experiences," she said.

Many members find companions to do things with, "to hang out with, go on trips with and take classes with. We have groups of people who meet for movies, lunches (and other activities), all outside the center."

Day trips and longer travels are also offered monthly through March, leaving from the center. For example, a one-day tour of Historic Camden is scheduled for Jan. 24, and day trip coordinator Anita Kieslich has booked an April 24 trip to ArtFields, a "living art gallery" in Lake City that exhibits works from accomplished artists living in 12 Southern states. The trip also includes a guided tour of Moore Farms Botanical Gardens. Fees for these trips vary.

Longer trips this session will take members to Memphis in June; Savannah, Jekyll Island and Beaufort in March; Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Dutch Country in September; and the Myrtle Beach Holiday Show in December. Again, all-inclusive fees vary.

For more information about the nonprofit Shepherd's Center of Sumter and its many activities, call the center at (803) 773-1944, or pick up a comprehensive brochure at the center at the Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department, 155 Haynsworth St.