FAB helps life get better with age

Janet Bissell, senior coordinator for Metro Parks Tacoma, says the Fifty and Better (FAB) program sprung out of the realization that the demographics of the population are changing at a rapid pace
“We saw a need and an opportunity for people,” she said.
Saying that it is difficult to define what a senior citizen is, Bissell said Metro Parks has a staff to come up with programs for citizens 50 years old and up.
“We are looking at those who are newly widowed or newly retired, or just changing their life structure a bit and have some more free time. We are looking at how we can help them enhance their lives,” she said.
In addition to a number of programs throughout the Metro Parks locations, there is an emphasis on trips.
June Brown has been a volunteer tour director at Metro Parks since the agency began taking folks on trips, and she seems to be a perfect fit for the job.
“I love it,” said Brown, adding that as a bonus, all the trips are reasonably priced.
One of the recent outings had a group attending a performance of “The Lion King” at Paramount Theater in Seattle.
Brown does the research and reports back to Metro Parks officials. “I can’t close the deal. I come up with the ideas, make the call and get information,” she said.
Lincoln City, Ore. was the destination of one of their trips, and while there they saw golden boys Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobbie Rydell.
“Everyone in their 60s knows them,” said Brown, “and the show was fabulous.”
In June, a group will travel to Harrison Hot Springs in Canada and stay at the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel.
“The trip includes transportation, a high English tea, wonderful food, hotel rooms for two nights, and two buffet breakfasts each morning. The food is to die for there,” Brown said. The group will also enjoy a five-course dinner in the Copper Room with dancing, and a trip to the Fraser River, complete with a tram ride across the river.
Bissell said the new FAB program kicked off last November with a Night in Venice promotion.
“We threw off all the barriers and had a fun evening with drawings, giveaways and baskets, a big spaghetti dinner and great entertainment,” she said.
Costs for different FAB programs are varied, said Bissell.
“We try to program what we would consider the fixed-income type of folks. Some classes run $5 a month, and we have a meditation class that runs $2 a month. There is something for everyone,” she said, adding that the SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) program is free.
Classes at the Star Center and Center at Norpoint can run $26 a month, and that includes fitness classes and access to the workout rooms. The Norpoint location also has a pool and classes in water aerobics.
All services are available to anyone living in the Pierce County area, with programs at the Star Center, Center at Norpoint, Portland Avenue Community Center and Peoples Center.
“I am really hoping that we are still in the infancy stage of this program,” said Bissell. Metro Parks Tacoma continues to pass out surveys asking folks what programs they would like to see in the future. “We always ask, J`What can we do next?’” said Bissell.
“We are trying to make this program a lot of fun for the fabulous people of Tacoma and surrounding areas. We like to say once you are 50, no matter what, you are always going to be fabulous.”
For more information on the FAB programs, go to the Metro Parks Tacoma website at metroparkstacoma.com, or call Bissell at 253-312-4458.

Water aerobics are one of the fitness programs offered through FAB.
Water aerobics are one of the fitness programs offered through FAB.