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Fitness center in Centennial works to bridge generation gaps – from Boomers to Gen Z-ers – Centennial Citizen

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In Centennial, 28% of the population is aged 60 or older. The older residents outnumber the younger ones, aged 10 to 19 years old, by more than double. The median age for the city is 42.7.

This information, from the federal government’s Census Reporter, hints at a generation gap. But an open house at the YMCA’s Centennial Center of Generations in Centennial over the weekend aimed to show how a sense of community can break down those barriers. Classes for teens to older adults from fitness to Spanish language and cooking to e-sports also help.

One goal of the center is to help more people socialize outside of their age groups.

Program Engagement Representative Paula Hillman cuts the cake to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Center of Generations on June 7. Photo by Isabel Guzman.

So, the open house, on June 7, open to all ages was a celebration of a year of working to bridge the gap, the center’s first anniversary.

Members wrote their favorite memory at Centennial YMCA Center of Generations. Photo by Isabel Guzman.

“One of the things that one of the members said to me last week was that for her, this has really been a life-changing experience,” Program Engagement Representative Paula Hillman said. “She has been diagnosed with cancer and she’s being treated… but it’s given her a place to exercise and socialize.”

Hillman said the center began with about 150 older adult visits per month, but now sees 450. Among the older generation, fitness classes are the most popular, including Tai Chi and gentle yoga. The second most popular course is a basic-level Spanish class called “Learn Spanish with Friends.”

Youth learn how to assemble and enhance Nerf toy guns in the game room. Photo by Isabel Guzman.

Younger adults aren’t as active in the center as older ones, but there are about 200 young adult visits per month. The center’s teen program includes game and craft nights, 3D model workshops, and Nerf-modding sessions in the game room.

Beyond movie nights and book clubs, Centennial City Council District 1 occasionally hosts meetings at the center and city council members are also regulars there, Hillman said. 

Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko and Chief Experience and Operating Officer at the YMCA of Metro Denver Kimberly Armitage are credited with the concept for the center, according to Hillman. Both joined the open house, along with council members Mike Sutherland of District 3, Amy Tharp of District 1, Robyn Carnes of District 1, Tammy Maurer of District 2 and Christine Sweetland of District 2.

Centennial City Councilors from left to right, Tammy Maurer, Mike Sutherland, Amy Tharp, Christine Sweetland and Robyn Carnes take a ride with Cycling Without Age Littleton on June 7. Photo by Isabel Guzman.

Cycling Without Age Littleton also attended, offering bike rides to attendees who experience physical and cognitive challenges. Volunteer pilots typically take riders around Littleton and the metro area, but the Centennial Council Members enjoyed a roll to The Streets at SouthGlenn to close out the celebration.

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