The Lapham Center Program has experienced a record high participation rate in the last year, according to a report by Town Council member Penny Young and Lapham Center Director Lyn Bond presented Oct. 10 to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
"When I started, 50 was a big day. The numbers just keep going up," Bond said.
He noted that there had been more than 220 participants in that day's activities.
Young introduced the presentation by noting that the Lapham Center Program started more than 20 years ago, in 1988, following a United Way study which said that New Canaan seniors lacked a central location for age-specific activities. Though the program started with programming only two days a week, it quickly grew. The organization purchased the Waveny House and hired an architectural firm to redesign it for the program's needs.
Through the growth, the program has tried to maneuver itself to be able to reach wider audiences, according to Young.
"One of the things we've been working on is to convey the feeling that this is an adult community center, it is not only a senior center," she said. "We want people to feel a part of a community, and not just a place for seniors."
Bond said that the Lapham Program usually has 100 to 125 classes at one time, in three-month blocks.
"Cooking classes have been very big classes," she said. "We've had chefs come in and run them. We do a lot of games, mostly bridge. There are bridge tables all over the place. Downstairs we have pool tables."
The center also offers language courses in French, Spanish, Italian and German.
One initiative that the program has worked on is computer and technology training, including a program where students from New Canaan High School work with seniors to become more proficient with technology, such as iPads.
Lyn noted that there are many book groups that are active within the Lapham program. She noted one which read the novel "Ulysses" by James Joyce. The group read and discussed one chapter of teh titanic novel per month. It took members more than two years to finish it.
Attendance has ballooned over the years.
Nine of the previous 11 months have been record highs in attendance. June attendance, for example, averaged about 1,200 people per month between 1998 and 2002. The June attendance in 2012 was 2,329.
Bond ended the presentation by expressing her gratitude for the support from the Parks and Recreation Commission.
"You should all be very proud. It's a terrific program," she said.
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