Fostering Connection and Creativity: United Way and Partners Host an Outing for Older Adults at Zoellner Arts Center

In April, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley (AFLV), in partnership with ArtsQuest and Lehigh University Art Galleries, hosted an outing for older adults at Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem. The Age-Friendly initiative is committed to connecting the area’s older adults to resources, activities and each other to keep seniors connected, active and engaged in their communities.

“We’re excited to partner with ArtsQuest and Lehigh University Art Galleries to bring this program together to eliminate barriers that would prevent older adults from participating in these activities, such as lack of transportation and cost,” said Carmen Bell, United Way’s Sr. Director of Healthy Aging.

ArtsQuest’s Creative Aging Program focuses on serving senior populations through art and creativity. Each partner brings something to the table—ArtsQuest provided the teaching artist, Lehigh University Art Galleries provided a tour of the museum and refreshments and AFLV provided the transportation. 

Ten engaged participants from United Way Community Hubs received breakfast, a guided tour of one of the exhibits and created their own works of art led by one of ArtsQuest’s teaching artists, Monica Salazar.

Social isolation can have a negative impact on physical health and mental well-being and is associated with a lower use of healthcare and an increased risk of mortality. Strong social support and connections can boost a person’s well-being and life span by 50%, according to Scientific American.

See more: Living in the Lehigh Valley: Creative Aging Program Episode on PBS

Photography: Marco Calderon Photography

Kathryn, a participant at United Way's Outing for Seniors at Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem
“This [program] is wonderful; amazing! I’m excited! As a retired person, interacting with other people is important for my mental health and physical health.”

Retired Easton Resident

“My wife passed away in December, but I still like to be around people. It encourages me and I encourage them.”

Semi-retired Bethlehem Resident

Carlon, a participant at United Way's Outing for Seniors at Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem