Festival offers focus on maintaining an active life

By: Michelle Miller Journal News Editor
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Some people just won’t take aging lying down. You’ll likely find a few of them at the Senior Health & Fitness Festival in Auburn, which aims to keep seniors active and healthy in their later years. “I wanted to celebrate living,” said Sheryl Petersen, who organized the first health and fitness event last year in honor of National Senior Health & Fitness Day. “We don’t want to see reverse mortgage lenders or assisted living. That’s not the focus. We’re looking for something that’s educational, but fun.” The Senior Health & Fitness Day focuses on living long and healthy with health screenings, healthy lifestyle vendors and activities including pickle ball (a senior-friendly variation of tennis), bocce ball and volleyball. Now in its second year, the event will be held at Recreation Park this year to make for a more festival-like environment, Petersen said. There will be live entertainment from barbershop group Pacific Standard Time and the songstresses from Blue Sky Girls. The Blue Sky Girls are a trio of vocalists who got together to continue singing in their retirement years, said founding member Annie Lindsay of Auburn. Lindsay, along with Joyce Arnold and Wanda Peabody sing classic tunes from the ’30s and ’40s, sometimes to the accompaniment of Lindsay’s acoustic guitar. Lindsay said the Blue Sky Girls are looking forward to the event, not only for their performance. “Because we’re seniors and we’re looking to get healthy and fit,” Lindsay said. “This is a feel good thing. It sends a good message to have fun and do good stuff. We put in a lot of time, but we love every minute of it.” In addition to the tunes, the first 400 visitors will be treated to lunch at noon courtesy of ARD and Raleys/Bel Air. There will also be a presentation from Barbara Larsen, author of “Movement with Meaning,” at 11 and 1 p.m. Larsen of Nevada City has spent the last 25 years in the dementia care field and is currently the education and family consultant for Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center, which supports family members caring for brain-impaired seniors. Larsen has written a book, “Movement with Meaning,” which lays out a program to help individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease stave off more serious symptoms through multi-sensory activities. Using poetry, music, yoga postures, breathing and more, Larsen said the activities help keep people grounded in their bodies during early-stage Alzheimer’s, which doesn’t affect one’s motor abilities. She’ll demonstrate these techniques at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. during the festival. “A lot of people are worried about memory loss. You see on TV and in the media all these memory games to keep your brain stimulated. It’s the use it or lose it. That’s what this is all about,” she said. “Up until recently, you couldn’t diagnose early stage Alzheimer’s, now you can and need appropriate activities to keep at that level.” The Journal’s Michelle Miller can be reached at michellem@, or post a comment at ---------- Senior Health & Fitness Festival What: Health screenings, vendors, food, entertainment and activities for ages 50-plus. When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 28 Where: Recreation Park, 123 Recreation Drive in Auburn