Beside the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Koreatown is the home of GenSpace, a new center dedicated to older adults.
What You Need To Know
- Wallis Annenberg GenSpace opened this week in Koreatown
- It's billed as an innovative community space for older adults to play games, garden, take classes and socialize
- GenSpace is housed in the Audrey Irmas Pavilion next to the synagogue at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple
- For $10/month, older adults can participate in programs, classes and events at the center
It’s not the dark, depressing multipurpose room that may come to mind when you think of a senior community center. For up to $10 per month, visitors can check out five unique areas, including a fitness room, game room, tech bar, art room and a space for horticultural therapy — the favorite of founder Wallis Annenberg.
"The idea was that we wanted to make it feel like you were in a greenhouse, and that the gardener was here and he just left, and then now you’re sort of populating the space," said Sean Knibb, one of the designers.
Seniors can pot plants, get their hands dirty and not worry about making a mess.
"To be able to garden and not have to bend over, I have two new hips, you know, so that’s still kind of difficult. I think it would be wonderful," said Debbi Jenkinson, who tried out the new space.
Jenkinson was exploring the game room. And while she says she’s fairly comfortable with technology, "I know there’s people out in the community that could be so much more linked in, so much more communicative that it would be wonderful," she said.
Jennifer Wong, director of GenSpace, says the ultimate goal is to disrupt negative stereotypes about aging.
"Sickly, elderly, lack of mobility, almost done or done with life, done with having fun, and so how do we change that?" Wong said.
According to the National Council on Aging, senior center participants are healthier while having better social interaction and life satisfaction.
"There are amazing stories out there of older adults running marathons, doing iron mans, starting businesses at 90," Wong said.
The $3 million facility has a modern feel with lots of natural light and even some digital art with sensors on the ground that affect the art when people pass by.
There’s also a sunken garden and roof top area where visitors can relax, get some fresh air, meditate or just take in views of the city. Wong says GenSpace wants to ensure seniors aren’t dismissed or overlooked but feel engaged and connected.
"I think it’s so important that after several years of asking older adults to stay at home, we ask them to come back into community safely and have some really great opportunities for social connection," Wong said.
And it's all in a space they can proudly call their own.