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The WYO Theater is offering arts classes for older adults and seniors

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The WYO Performing Arts and Education Center (otherwise known as the WYO Theater) is offering arts classes through WYO PLAY to those in the community ages 55 and over.

The Wyoming Arts Council awarded a grant to the WYO to offer Creative Aging courses. This was made possible by contributions from the National Assembly of State Art Agencies in partnership with Aroha Philanthropies.

The first 8-week program concludes on March 24 with short performances at the Hub on Smith.

"We offered a storytelling class, for which I was the instructor, and then we offered a dance class, and Stephanie Koltiska is the instructor for that," said Grace Cannon, Lead Teacher of one of the Creative Aging courses. "Stephanie is the leader of the dance program through Sheridan College."

Cannon participated in a training session last year for the Creative Aging program. This qualified her to apply for the grant, which was approximately $4,000.

Cannon said that the WYO has been focusing on creating new programming opportunities for the community recently. Past efforts have often been focused on youth, but Creative Aging offers new opportunities for adults, which differentiates them from other community arts and learning programs. Other aims of the program include exploring and creating community connections through a shared arts experience.

"This was a really cool opportunity for us to branch out and create some programming for adults," Cannon said. "We've partnered with an organization here in town called the Hub on Smith, formerly known as our senior center."

Cannon said about 20 participants partook in the storytelling and dance classes, with about 10 in each.

"We've gotten really positive feedback and really active engagement, which makes us really excited to explore this and both potentially offer the same classes again in the future but also explore other artistic mediums," she said.

Creative Aging participants will perform on March 24 at the Hub on Smith to showcase the skills they've been honing over the past two months, which will include both storytelling and dance performances, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Interested community members who are 55 years or older can contact Cannon via email at gcannon@wyotheater.com for future Creative Aging courses. Enrollment can also be done through the Hub on Smith's website, or by calling (307) 672-2240.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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