Staying active

Marquette Senior Center program provides elders recreational opportunities

Maureen McFadden, right, senior services manager for the city of Marquette, speaks to attendees at a community open house at the Presque Isle pavilion on Tuesday night. The open house was held to discuss the Marquette Senior Center’s Silver Sampler program, a recreation and education program for senior citizens that allows them to partake in outdoor adventures they may not otherwise be able to try. The program is one of just two known programs of its kind in the United States. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula is often described as one giant outdoor playground with its pristine waters, miles of trails, natural scenery and endless opportunities for recreation.

It can be argued that there’s no better place for an outdoors enthusiast. Unfortunately, as we grow older, many of those opportunities can fade away whether it be due to degrading health, declining mobility or simply lacking the energy that we once had at a younger age.

Fortunately, the Marquette Senior Center has a program to combat this trend. Now in its seventh year, the Silver Sampler program provides seniors across Marquette County with free recreational opportunities.

The senior center, in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Marquette County and the city of Marquette, hosted an open house at the Presque Isle pavilion on Tuesday night to discuss the program and make the community more aware of it.

Maureen McFadden, senior services manager for the city of Marquette, said, “It’s an outdoor recreation and education program for older adults, 55 and older, in Marquette city, Marquette Township, Chocolay Township and Powell Township,” she said. “It is a program run by the city of Marquette Senior Center, and this specific event today is kind of a promotional and educational event to get people excited about the program, let them know it exists … a lot of people don’t even know that we’re here and that we have this very unique program for the unique area and landscape we live in.

“Our mission is to spread the word about outdoor recreation and to get older adults recreating safely and identifying what those barriers might be for older adults to do so, and then not only educating those older adults, but educating other places and people in our community, whether that’s different agencies or different businesses, we want to try to be a hub for advocacy. Part of that would be, for example, a local race. Let’s take Queen City (Running Co.), they put on a lot of races. They have worked with us to give us discounts for seniors because a lot of people don’t realize that these are individuals living on a fixed income, and participating in a 5K walk or run might be difficult for them based off of their income level.

“So, we try to work to advocate with businesses and people to spread the word about what the barriers are to older adults and recreation.”

Seniors and community members were treated to a Border Grill dinner at the open house event. The Silver Sampler program also received somewhat of a refresh this year, thanks to grant funding and the partnership with the community foundation.

“We have food and promotional materials that were funded by the Community Foundation of Marquette County,” McFadden said. “We received a grant this year, and we were able to re-brand our whole program and provide these different handouts and promotional materials for people so they know what we’re all about.”

The program is officially described on promotional materials as “a recreation and education program” that “exposes participants to recreational adventures they might otherwise not try in Marquette County,” and “eliminates typical barriers associated with participating in recreational programs such as fees and equipment,” “provides expert instruction and guides,” “increases confidence and capacity for people to recreate safely,” “advocates for older adult recreation within the community,” and is “geared toward physically active older adults.”

McFadden said the program is one of just two of its kind in the United States.

“From our awareness, at the moment that I last checked, we are one of two senior centers in the entire country that offer a comprehensive outdoor recreation program with their own dedicated staff and education program for seniors specifically,” she said.

Those ages 55 and up who reside in Marquette, Marquette Township, Chocolay Township or Powell Township who are interested in joining the free program or finding out more can contact the Marquette Senior Center at 906-228-0456 or email McFadden at mmcfadden@marquettemi.gov. Individuals can also drop by the senior center, located at 300 W. Spring St. The center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

McFadden finished by thanking the community for their support of the program.

“We’d really just like to thank the community and local businesses for supporting our program,” she said. “We’d really like to give a big thank you to the city of Marquette and the Community Foundation of Marquette County for sponsoring this.”


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