Inside JCPRD: Adults are an important audience JCPRD seeks to actively engage

Pickleball is one of JCPRD’s most popular sports with adults and 50 Plus.

By David Markham

JCPRD presents programs and events to serve a number of audiences, and while youth programs are often in the forefront, especially at this time of year when summer camps are being emphasized, adults are another important group the district actively seeks to engage.

“Learning doesn’t stop when you become an adult,” noted Outdoor Education Manager Andrea Joslin. “JCPRD offers a wide variety of opportunities for adults to really focus in on investigating special areas of interest. It is important to offer programs when it is convenient to help fit educational and recreational opportunities into the busy lives of today’s adult.”

“Art education is really important for people of every age and as an adult it has so many benefits; it can challenge you, be an avenue for relaxation and creativity, provide a social environment, and help keep your motor skills and cognitive functioning sharp,” added Fine Arts Coordinator Ryan Bell. “Art is a great way to have fun while trying something new. “

Based on participant input and what has proven successful in the past, different program areas take different approaches to scheduling adult programs.

“For the 50 Plus Department, the age 50 looks very different today than it did when we named our department and started offering programs for older adults 50 years ago,” said 50 Plus Manager Michelle Alexander. “Advances in medicine and technology, along with lifestyle, workstyle, and culture changes are keeping us all aging better and living more active lives. We have a very active and growing demographic of retired adults in our region that we are very busy serving through programs, events, and daytrips during the weekday between normal working hours.”

At the same time, she noted, programmers are also aware that there still many over the age of 50 who want to participate in programs but can’t during the day on workdays.

“We do our best each season to offer some programs in the evenings and occasionally on the weekends,” she said. “We look for trends and listen to feedback to decide what to offer when. It will be important for us to continue to look at trends and the new evolving work from home and flexible schedules so many companies are transitioning to for their employees. This shift could have more adults available and looking for daytime programs. Surveying our patrons and paying attention to those responses will also hopefully help guide us to serving our community.”

“Adult programing can be a hard nut to crack,” added Performing Arts Coordinator Elena Stephenson. “Adults are busy! Some are parents who are already driving other family members and children to other programs and events. Evenings tend to work best for adult programs. It’s important that adults also get an opportunity to unwind and explore their creative sides.”

“All of our programs this spring are weekend or morning programs – not evening, except the new overnight Women’s Outdoor Discovery Skills (15833) program, which starts on a Friday night,” Joslin said of this season’s outdoor education offerings.

Adults can relax and discover their hidden talents with JCPRD many arts-related courses.

Programmers appreciate public input about times that work best for participants as well as for future program topics.

“For our Fine and Performing Arts programming we listen to the requests for new classes and do what we can to make them happen,” Bell said. “For example, we’ve received multiple requests for both acrylic painting and drawing classes so we’re bringing those to our offerings in early 2022. We’re trying new things all the time with our Fine Arts programs, we’re also repeating our most popular classes so make sure you’re checking back with each new season of programming. If there’s something you’d like us to try or offer again, let us know!”

“Share your feedback and tell us what you are interested in doing and learning about,” Alexander added. “Share your talents with us too. We are always on the lookout for individuals to teach classes. Some of our best programs and best instructors have developed through conversations with our patrons.”

Remember that while JCPRD’s 50 Plus programs are primarily for people who are age 50 or older, interested parties who have not yet reached that magic age may still be able to attend. Persons 18 and older who are interested in a 50 Plus class are invited to call the 50 Plus Department at 913-826-2975 for space availability.

Here is a sampling of current-season adult offerings suggested by programmers: