ActivePaper Archive Room to grow - Oklahoman, 10/31/2018

Room to grow

Popular MAPS 3 senior center makes case for expansion

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Members participate in an aerobics class last week at the MAPS 3 senior health and wellness center on N Rockwell Avenue. Oklahoma City’s nonprofit operating partner for the center, Healthy Living and Fitness Inc., has proposed a $3.5 million expansion. [PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN]

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Liessa Lieppman, right, leads an art class at Healthy Living’s senior health and wellness center last week. The senior health and wellness centers are city-owned, financed with MAPS 3 sales tax revenue and managed through partnerships with community nonprofits. [PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN]

The first MAPS 3 senior health and wellness center is such a roaring success that it needs more room.

Advisory boards recommended last week that the city council allocate $3.5 million to expand the center, at 11501 N Rockwell Ave.

Opened 18 months ago with a goal of signing up 2,000 members in the first two years, the center already has 5,500 members.

“I don’t know how we go wrong with it,” said Cecilia Robinson-Woods, vice chair of the volunteer MAPS 3 senior health and wellness centers subcommittee.

And Robinson-Woods noted that high percentages of seniors turn out to vote, a consideration in looking ahead to winning support for a sales tax extension for MAPS

4.

On average, 618 seniors are visiting the Rockwell Avenue center daily. Water aerobics classes are crowded, as are the women’s locker rooms. Art classes are at capacity.

A typical week includes 55 group fitness classes, with two more being added in November. Fitness classes forced into the gymnasium compete for space with pickleball.

Growing demand

MAPS 3 senior health and wellness centers are for individuals 50 and older.

That demographic is 48,000 and climbing in neighborhoods near the Rockwell Avenue center, said Claire Dowers-Nichols, the center’s executive director.

“I don’t think the growth is going to stop,” said Bill Fleming, who chairs the board of Healthy Living and Fitness Inc., the city’s nonprofit operating partner for the center.

Healthy Living’s conceptual plans for expansion include new and larger locker rooms and an education center for classes on popular topics such as nutrition, wellness and computers.

Space for art would grow and a second gymnasium would be built. Parking would be added.

Healthy Living is looking at private fundraising to include a second pool in the project, Fleming said.

Public money for expansion would be drawn from MAPS 3 sales tax revenue.

The city council could vote Nov. 6, and final designs and construction could take two years.

‘I come because it keeps me young’

Cathy Hall, 68, is a bundle of vitality and a regular at the center.

“The energy here for people over the age of 50 is just very good,” Hall said. “It’s very friendly.”

“The exercise classes are structured for us,” she said. “People don’t want to go work out with 30-yearolds.”

“I come to relax, play dominoes, play pool and laugh a little bit,” said N.G. Freeman, 69, who lives alone. “And I exercise a little bit. I just get away.”

Roy Wright, 92, served on the USS Enterprise during World War II. He also enjoys the upbeat energy.

“I come because it keeps me young. I come in to learn to play pool, work out, ride the bicycle,” he said.

Expanding in Capitol Hill

The second MAPS 3 senior health and wellness center, at 4021 S Walker Ave., next door to Capitol Hill High School, opened last spring.

In its first six months, attendance and enrollment in activities and classes have multiplied. As is the case on Rockwell Avenue, water aerobics is popular.

Named for former Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, the Capitol Hill center has about 720 members so far, and 28 fitness classes per week.

Variety Care is opening a health clinic there Nov. 12.

NorthCare is the city’s operating partner in Capitol Hill. It has a grant for health services that includes funding for center memberships and transportation.

Fun, common ground

The MAPS 3 senior health and wellness centers are city-owned and built with revenue from the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax approved by voters in December 2009.

At least two more centers are planned.

Activities at Healthy Living’s center on Rockwell Avenue fit Ann Fagan to a tee.

“Here, there is everything in the whole world,” Fagan, 78, said. “Any art — you can do clay, you can sew, you can help the homeless by making mats, cooking classes, healthy eating classes.

“My favorite thing about this place is every room you go in has windows that look outside,” she said. “It brings the outside in to me.

“You can find common ground with so many people. And it’s fun. Fun, fun.”