|Turner proves no one’s too old to follow their passion
The stereotype of the white-haired granny sitting in her rocker smiling serenely is gone. Today’s seniors are more likely to remain physically and socially active through their 80s and beyond, demonstrating one is “Never Too Old to Play,” the theme of Older Americans Month 2012.
Since 1963, communities across the nation have celebrated Older Americans Month to recognize the contributions and achievements of older Americans. This year’s commemoration acknowledges the value older adults continue to bring to communities through spirited participation in social and faith groups, service organizations and other activities.
Whether it is playing in a band, playing a favorite sport, or playing with the grandchildren, Sonoma County seniors can be seen participating in creative, physical and social activities around the county.
Rohnert Park resident Gerry Turner validates the “Never Too Old to Play” concept at 78, as he plays tuba and is active in nine musical groups. He credits his musical involvement with keeping him going.
“I don’t think I would be as mentally or physically healthy if I wasn’t playing,” he says. “The spring would be gone from my step. Playing the tuba is living my passion.”
His love for playing the tuba began at age 12 when he went with a friend to a music lesson. He played all through high school and in the Army band for two years after he was drafted, but didn’t play again for the next 49 years. It wasn’t until 2004 when his wife bought him a tuba that he started playing again. It was after is wife’s death in 2007 and with encouragement from his daughter who told him “MSNBC is not a hobby,” that he joined his first band, Santa Rosa’s the New Horizons Band, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving seniors an opportunity to make music, regardless of ability or experience.
This kind of continued participation in life’s offerings has benefits not only for the senior but for the community, as well. Studies show their interactions across generations enrich the lives of everyone involved, often helping shape younger peoples’ values and life choices and encouraging peers to remain active.
The Sonoma County Area Agency on Aging (SCAAA) joins with the Council on Aging (COA) in promoting the “Never Too Old to Play” theme of Older Americans Month in Sonoma County. They are hosting a special showing of the feature documentary “Age of Champions,” an inspiring story of a group of older athletes participating in National Senior Games. Whether it is a 100-year-old tennis player, an 86-year-old pole-vaulter or any of the other seniors featured in the film, all show a triumphant spirit of competitors tackling the challenges of age with grace, humor and optimism.
The film will be shown free of charge on Wednesday, May 9, at 2 p.m. at the Finley Center, 2060 W. College Avenue in Santa Rosa. For more information on the film, contact the SCAAA at 565-5950 or COA at 525-0143, ext. 146.