Seniors, Don’t Skip This Day

Senior Americans Day offers a spectrum of activities for 55-plus crowd

Tom Giffey

Charlene Zeng leads a tai chi workshop at a previous Senior Americans Day at UW-Eau Claire
Charlene Zeng leads a tai chi workshop at a previous Senior Americans Day at UW-Eau Claire.

Next June 4, the UW-Eau Claire campus will be overrun with seniors – and we don’t mean the kind who are a few credits away from graduating from college. We mean the kind of seniors who already have master’s degrees in life but who still want to keep on learning.

That Tuesday will be the 31st annual Senior Americans Day at UWEC, a day full of workshops, education, vendor booths, health screenings, camaraderie, and more – all aimed at senior citizens. While the term “senior citizen” can mean different things to different people, in this case the event is designed for those ages 55 and above. In Wisconsin, that’s 31 percent of the population – a sizable chunk of  Cheeseheads.

While Senior Americans Day offers things that will engage just about everyone in the 55-plus age bracket, organizer Claire Lindstrom said they’re particularly interested in “younger seniors” who may still be in the workforce and don’t necessarily think of themselves as senior citizens. These people will find plenty relevant workshops, ranging from active pursuits such as Zumba, kubb, tai chi, and petanque to retirement planning.

“Everybody’s going to get to that (retirement) age at some point, so it’s good to be prepared and get that information as you get older,” explained Lindstrom, program manager for UWEC Continuing Education, which sponsors Senior Americans Day.

Details of the day are still in the works, but organizers are excited that the Chippewa Valley’s own best-selling author, musician, storyteller, and self-described intermittent pig farmer Michael Perry will be the keynote speaker. Lindstrom said organizers hope to build a theme for the day around Perry.

And while workshops haven’t been announced yet either (in fact, if you’ve got a good idea, you can still submit your proposal for a workshop through Dec. 3), last year’s lineup included everything from container gardening to electric bicycles to playing the ukulele to boosting your brainpower to advanced care planning to the JFK assassination. In total, 40 to 50 workshops will be offered across three time slots.

“Usually people can find something they’re passionate about or interested in,” Lindstrom said.

Free health checks will also be available. Last year, these included cholesterol, hearing, and blood pressure screenings, as well as chair massages (if the prospect of having your blood pressure checked makes you tense).

There will be prizes as well, including tickets from Wisconsin Public Radio for a trip to the Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield.

Registration will begin in mid-March. Admission will be $35, and scholarships are available for those who can’t afford the fee.

To join the mailing list and get a copy of the brochure and registration information when it becomes available, visit ce.uwec.edu/programs/senior-americans-day. And if you’re interested in getting involved as a presenter, sponsor, or volunteer, contact the university’s Continuing Education office at (715) 836-3636.