For the second year in a row, the commissioners of Sarasota County, Manatee County, and the City of Sarasota have designated November as "Lifelong Learning Month."
Sarasota County has several distinctions. The highest population of older adults and the most highly educated from all over the U.S. have chosen to retire here due to our ever-growing active lifestyle. However, the stereotypical definition of retirement has changed immensely in the past 15 years. Older people are busier than ever; our county is filled with golf courses, tennis, pickleball and shuffleboard venues, along with an abundance of echo-rich parks, beaches, walking and biking trails, plus opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and boating. In addition, we are known as the West Coast County of the Arts. Sarasota and Manatee are teeming with performing art venues, with thousands of season subscribers.
In 2019, over 50 non-profit organizations offered lifelong learning opportunities, serving thousands of residents seeking new knowledge to expand their minds in retirement.
Then COVID-19 paid us a visit, and it didn't leave for the summer like our typical snowbirds. All our lives changed; many only left home for the necessities, residents and visitors became ill and/or lost friends and loved ones to the virus.
Lifelong learning organizations were among the first to reinvent the way they offered programs. They wanted to continue to enrich their students' lives, and with the risks involved with close contact and the need for social distancing, a new wave of learning was brought to the forefront. Soon everyone was talking about Zoom classes. Online classes are a wonderful way to learn and stay in touch with others without leaving the safe confines of your home, condo, or apartment.
Aside from the offerings of liberal arts courses, including languages, now even local arts organizations like Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Opera House, and regional theatres are all onboard with their own classes and performances using an online platform.
Suncoast Alliance of Lifelong Learning is a local non-profit which serves as a directory of lifelong learning organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Please visit the SCALL website to learning more about local opportunities. www.SunCoastLifeLongLearning.org
To celebrate November as the official month of Lifelong Learning, SCALL is offering a Virtual Lifelong Learning EXPO. This FREE event will be held on Saturday, November 14, from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. Please register in advance at their website.
Some of the highlights of the event include:
- An exclusive music presentation by two Principals of the Sarasota Orchestra along with a behind the scenes interview.
- A comedy routine by the talented Pam and Les McCurdy from McCurdy's Comedy Club.
- The keynote speaker will be Nicci Kobritz, President, Youthful Aging Home Care, CEO, Center for Brain Health, "How to Improve Your Brain Health."
- Member presentations showcasing new genres of programing.
- Prizes will be offered, including free golf from The Meadows Country Club and free classes from local lifelong learning organizations.