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Memorial Park Community Center 'helps old people go'

W. Kenneth Medley II • Mar 24, 2019 at 5:00 PM

“It helps old people go,” said Gordon Gage, 76, “They have workout rooms here and (billiard) rooms and swimming. It is really worth what you come here for.”

The Memorial Park Community Center is more than just a senior center, according to Debbie Fogle, senior services manager. There are various programs for all ages and some that specifically highlight inter-generational inclusivity.

“There are ongoing programs,” Fogle said. “We have ongoing Pickle Ball that there are times when people can play. They change with our calendar on a month-to-month basis. We try to keep it up to date with information to give people a variety of activities to keep active; not only physically active, but also mentally active and using that brain.”

The MPCC is a part of the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department. The facility houses the Johnson City Senior Center and is currently undergoing a reaccreditation process with the National Institute of Senior Services. According to Fogle this is the fifth time the center, now and in a past location, has undergone reaccreditation that happens every five years.

Typically, says Fogle, many seniors frequent the building during the day. When schools release in the afternoon, children flood into the center for afterschool classes and recreation programs. There are also classes for adults available.

“I feel like this is just a place, especially for children, to go to and have somewhere afterschool that they can come and hang out,” said Kelly Finney, recreation center supervisor, “Also we offer community events where the whole family can come and enjoy. Most of our programs are free or very low cost.”

There is a fee associated with some of the center’s activities. The popular “Outings” can have a fee attached. Fogle said that these trips have become more frequent for 2019 and more popular. The MPCC took a packed bus of 29 people to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge on March 20, with a cost of $30 for a ticket and transportation.

Fogle said that the center is always trying to improve their services. She said that there have been new classes added since 2018; examples are Pilates, Pickle Ball and more travel opportunities. Hiking is popular and offered at three varying difficulty levels. Fogle cites local geography as an asset of which the center takes full advantage.

“Look at this area, and what we have to offer,” Fogle said. We sit right close to the Tweetsie Trail so we are trying to do some things there. You have people getting more into biking. What can we do? We will be offering some biking programs, not only for our youth but also for our seniors. We are trying to keep people as active as we possibly can.”

This is important in her opinion, because the life expectancy and retirement ages for people are increasing. Fogle says that it is important to keep the mind sharp and the body strong. There is also a drive for programs targeting individuals 50+ years old and not retired. Fogle said that due to time they cannot take advantage of all the programs the center has to offer.

Looking forward for 2019 one can expect to see a full calendar of events hosted, organized and sponsored by the MPCC. There are classes in technology, art and craft, fitness and more outings to come. There will also be more inter-generational activities like Whacky Golf, an 18 hole indoor course for all ages, that had a recent successful first event.

“Really, we have the best job,” said Finney, “just creating fun for people in our events and programs.”

For more information about the MPCC, schedule of events and pricing, visit the website www.johnsoncitytn.com/mpcc or call 423-434-5750.

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