Facility Profile - February 2012
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Senior Recreation Center

Creative Outlets
West Flamingo Center for Active Adults in Las Vegas

By Diane Bush

The West Flamingo Center for Active Adults is one of four Clark County Senior Recreation Centers located in the Las Vegas Valley. Opened in 1998, the facility was expanded in 2003 with additions of an indoor pool, computer lab, game room and dance/exercise activity room. We have a small facility, but it is abuzz with line dancing, bridge games, tap dancing, table tennis, painting, knitting, canasta, crochet, Mahjong, needlepoint, Scrabble, movies, field trips, pickle ball, dominos, yoga, tai chi, watercolor painting, computer classes, pool, parties, Hula dancing, low-impact exercise classes and more!

We filter questions from the general public about social services for the elderly, bring in speakers to address common concerns, and provide a sanctuary where our clients can just read a book, work quietly on a jigsaw puzzle, or share a cup of coffee and conversation.

Recently redecorated with a new coat of paint, artwork and live plants, the center is enjoying a renaissance. As the new supervisor, it was my personal goal to make the rooms, corridors and atmosphere as colorful, oxygen-filled and playful as my own home. As an artist from a family of artists, I have more artwork than can be hung at home. Rather than have work stacked on the floor, seen by no one, I have brought in 10 or so framed works to the center that have little value but are enjoyed by the patrons, primarily because the colors work well with the county-sanctioned hues of green and blue in the lobby and halls.

What I did not expect, in my first senior-only assignment, was the enthusiasm with which the ladies who knit and crochet embraced the concept of "yarnstorming."

Discovered through a daily newsletter about public and other art projects all over the world, (artdaily.org) I was frustrated that Las Vegas had no yarnstormers. These groups of young people steal out at night and cover dreary public poles, railings, poles, etc., with brightly knitted squares, beautifying the urban landscape "one stitch at a time" with temporary fabric cozies.

After showing our seniors pictures of various yarnstorming examples from all over the world, of phone booths, statues, bridges, buses, cars, trees, fences, etc., they were so enthusiastic they immediately went home that night and started knitting! The next day I had a stack of squares. A few weeks later our handicap railing, which gets too hot to touch in the summer, was covered in beautiful, insulated knitted squares. Neighbors who live across the street have told me they are enjoying the bright colors that can be seen from their front yards. Seniors are grateful they no longer have to worry about burning their hands on the rail, which can happen a few days per year when temperatures in Las Vegas can go up to 112 (this year) or higher!

Is this a colorful and cheap way to stop skateboarders from skating on handrails?

Because this is the first yarnstorming project in Las Vegas, the press has been wonderful, with two local magazines, three local TV stations and three local newspapers providing our center with great publicity. This publicity has brought in donations of yarn, and spawned small "Yarn Storming Satellite" groups made of women who are not yet seniors, but get together in the evenings and with friends to knit or crochet. I have had e-mails from as far away as Australia, from people who are headed to Las Vegas, and want to join our group. The local girl scouts have volunteered to help attach the work to various surfaces, as the seniors would have difficulty with that part of the project. This multi-generational tie-in will help forge understanding between the generations to come, especially for those girls not fortunate enough to have contact with elders. They may want to pitch in with their own squares! We also have a Leaders of the Future population that may pitch in with installation work.

Down the line we plan to decorate additional spaces, including a pedestrian bridge leading to a hospital near the university that needs some color. After the center's kitting and crochet group finishes with holiday projects, we will look at decorating the bridge for the International Yarn Storming Day on June 11, 2012. With the Girl Scouts and Leaders of the Future pitching in, anything is possible!

Diane Bush is the supervisor at the West Flamingo Center for Active Adults, located on West Flamingo Road in Las Vegas and can be reached at bushds@clarkcountynv.gov.