WHEELING, W.Va. (August 4, 2015)- – Oglebay Institute serves people of all ages by offering year-round arts, cultural, history and nature programs at its six facilities in Wheeling. Senior citizens play an active role at the non-profit organization by participating in programs and classes, teaching and volunteering in a variety of roles. OI president Danielle McCracken wants to raise awareness among seniors in the Upper Ohio Valley about the numerous opportunities available for them at OI.

McCracken said arts programs for seniors have great value, enhancing the quality of life for individuals involved as well as the community.

“Numerous studies have been done regarding the impact of arts programs on the well being of seniors, ” she explained. “Scientific research overwhelmingly demonstrates that involvement in participatory arts programs has a positive effect on the physical health, mental health and social function of older adults.”

One such study titled “The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults” was initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts and conducted by Dr. Gene Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Heath and Humanities at George Washington University. Cohen’s study found that older adults participating in community arts groups used less medication, had fewer doctor visits, experienced elevated mood, showed an increase in the level of independent functioning and did better on scales for depression, loneliness and morale.

McCracken added that senior participation also enhances the overall experience for all OI participants. She said whether it is in an art or dance class, a nature program or a theater production, seniors bring a unique perspective.

“Older adults are creators, mentors and advisors. They share wisdom they have gained through a lifetime of experience. Bringing generations together through the arts enhances the creative process and benefits everyone.”

As a way to make the senior community aware of the opportunities available to them at Oglebay Institute, the organization is hosting a free ice cream social/open house from 2 – 4 p.m. Wednesday, August 12 at its Stifel Fine Arts Center on National Road.

The event will include opportunities to tour the historic Stifel mansion and learn about its history, stroll through the beautiful gardens and view the West Virginia Watercolor Society Exhibit on display in the galleries. OI staff members will give presentations and discuss the activities coming up at all OI facilities, including the Stifel Center, the School of Dance, the Schrader Environmental Education Center, Towngate Theatre, the Mansion and Glass Museums. Ice cream and other sweet treats will be served.

“We have a large population of seniors who call the Ohio Valley home. And the number of seniors living in our area will continue to increase. In fact, it is estimated that by 2035, nearly one out of every four West Virginia residents will be age 65 or older,” McCracken explained. “We want to make certain that our seniors are aware of the opportunities available to them at OI to socialize, engage and boost their vitality.”

The August 12 event is open to individuals as well as groups. For more information, call 304-242-4200. RSVPs are appreciated. The Stifel Fine Arts Center is located at 1330 National Road, Wheeling. Parking is free and located just behind the Center.