By Alicia Doyle, Ventura County Star, February 17, 2012
Seniors are invited to display their talent in the Writers Block, a wall display with poems, short stories and essays at the Simi Valley Senior Center.
“After years of experiencing love, loss and all things in between, seniors’ lives and their perspectives are incredibly rich and valuable,” said Andrea Gallagher, a certified senior adviser with Senior Concerns.
“The act or art of writing is easier than many activities to integrate into a senior’s life because all it takes is pen, paper and recalling memories or using their imagination.”
Writing uses many parts of the brain and is a great exercise to keep mentally sharp, Gallagher added.
“Displaying their work engages seniors with the outside world, gives them a voice and can provide needed acknowledgment of their value to society,” Gallagher said.
This effort was inspired by a group called the Simi Scribblers, which meets from 10 a.m. to noon at the center.
“They wanted a way to display their writings,” said Laurie Dickinson, the center’s senior services manager. “So we enlisted the help of a senior from the woodworking class, and he made us a sign that says ‘Writers Block,’ which we hung at the end of the Senior Art Gallery at the senior center.”
The center put up Plexiglas holders that fit paper, Dickinson said, and began displaying short stories, poems and chapters of books seniors were writing on a monthly basis. Sometimes staff members would add pictures to enhance the story.
All writings are accepted, and people don’t have to belong to the Simi Scribblers, Dickinson added.
The longest piece the wall can accommodate is eight pages, “but sometimes people will give us a chapter at a time and staff and clients alike can’t wait for the next chapter,” Dickinson said.
For instance, one author wrote a popular series about Elmer the Crow.
“She shared stories about a pet crow and his escapades with her family as she grew up,” Dickinson said.
Writing activities can give meaning and purpose to one’s life, said Lori Bliss, a care coordinator and senior advocate with Senior Concerns.
The Scribblers class and the Writers Block are good opportunities for seniors to share life stories, avoid isolation, stimulate brain cells and promote purposeful dialogue, Bliss added.