LARSON: Grandparents Day inspires grand ideas

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

Happy Grandparents Day to all the grandparents. And step grandparents. And all seniors, period! Actually, National Grandparents Day was established in 1978 to honor all senior citizens and to make our youth aware of all the contributions they have made to our country.

I guess it’s kind of cool having our own day. Another reason to get cards and gifts for those who really get into all the trappings. But recognizing seniors and their needs, whether they are grandparents or not should not be confined to one day a year. And for this, I am most impressed with what Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation offers seniors all year round.

For starters, eight Senior Recreation Clubs meet monthly at various parks for pot luck luncheons where they can just hang out or help plan special events like day trips and dances. The senior centers at George Pierce, Bethesda, Bogan and Pinckneyville Parks have regularly scheduled activities like bridge, Mexican Train, Scrabble, and Wii. At George Pierce Park, billiards and shuffle board are ongoing every day.

Classes include a little of everything for everybody: oil painting, belly dancing, Zumba, yoga, Spanish, piano and Japanese cooking, just to name a few. Special events abound. The Fall schedule includes creating pet portraits on Sept. 26 at Bogan Park, Senior Health Fair on Oct. 25 at Bethesda Park and all kinds of holiday events including a Harvest Dance, Craft Creation Bazaar and the Annual Christmas Tea.

Some centers showcase the talents of Gwinnett seniors by exhibiting their artwork.

But it isn’t all about hanging out with fellow seniors enjoying these well deserved pleasures. GCPR offers hundreds of ways for grandparents to get involved with their grandkids. There are a dozen lakes where they can fish together and nine aquatic centers where they can splash around together. GCPR’s 40 walking trails provide a perfect opportunity to exercise both the body and the brain, especially at Little Mulberry Park with its ancient trees and mysterious rock piles.

The Veterans Memorial Museum is a “must see” for all generations and the hands on science exhibit at the Environmental and Heritage Center is a “must do.”

And as for that “doing” part of grand parenting, what better way to bond with grandchildren than to volunteer together? GCPR provides opportunities for that, too.

Kim Shealy, GCPR Volunteer Coordinator said, “We have multi-generational programs that encourage such activities. We offer events and activities for seniors in most of the parks that are only enhanced by the volunteering of their grandkids. Whether it is a clean up day in the rose garden at Vines or a special event day at a center, we encourage the senior to participate with their grandkids. The most important aspect is to have the senior interested and promote those values to the youth.”

Sounds like we seniors can, if we want, make everyday Grandparents Day forever.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.