Senior citizens in Central will have a new place to play Wii beginning Thursday.
That’s when the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, in partnership with the city of Central and city’s Chamber of Commerce, will officially open the first full-service senior center in Central.
In addition to offering hot meals, activities and fitness classes, the center will be equipped with a 50-inch television, theatre-style sound and a Wii console, said Ann Watts, the site coordinator.
Video golf and bowling are especially popular with seniors, Watts said.
Opening a senior center in Central has been a priority, said Tasha Clark-Amar, executive director of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.
“This will be the first time the Council on Aging has reached that area of the parish,” Clark-Amar said. “They have been trying to get this going for four or five years.”
The ball got rolling on the new center when Clark-Amar was invited to speak at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in the early part of this year, she said.
Ron Erickson, pastor of Future Hope Ministries, a 30-member church that meets in an old pool hall, attended the meeting.
Erickson told Clark-Amar he may have a building that would suit Clark-Amar’s purpose, Erickson said.
“I said maybe we can work something out,” Erickson said. “The building is open during the daytime. We figured we might as well utilize the space.”
One key was that Future Hope Ministries was equipped with the correct number of handicapped-accessible restrooms, Erickson said.
The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging will pay for Watts to be the site coordinator, meals and the equipment, Clark-Amar said.
The city of Central will help pay the rent and some of the utilities for the facility, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer David Barrow said.
A place like the center is needed in Central, Barrow said.
“About 20 percent of our population is 60 and over,” he said. “We have a lot of longtime Central residents in the older crowd.”
Central had 26,864 residents in 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Clark-Amar said the center would not be opening without the assistance of the city and the Chamber of Commerce.
“They were one of the first meetings I had when I started a year ago,” she said. “We got together and hashed out the responsibilities for each partner,” she said.
The Council on Aging will send 20 meals per day to the center to start, but Clark-Amar expects that could quickly increase to 80 or more meals per day. Parishwide, the Council on Aging serves more than 70,000 hot meals per year, she said.
The Central center is one of six new locations the EBR Council on Aging is opening this month. Four of the locations, Sharlo Terrace, Catholic Presbyterian Apartments, the Senior Residences of Central and Turner Plaza Apartments, will be meal-service locations only, Clark-Amar said.
The Central center and another opening at the Delmont Service Center on Riley Street will offer activities and other services in addition to meals, she said.