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Learning new things can be fun, but sometimes the reward is even greater.

"Research indicates that the brain can grow new pathways and connections throughout life," said Lynn Glaeser, wellness director at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster. "Lifelong learning provides opportunities for intellectual, physical and spiritual growth."

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Opportunities to feed that growth are available through the spring 2015 Lifelong Learning Series at Carroll Lutheran Village. The series offers opportunities for education on a variety of topics, with classes open to all older adults in Carroll County.

Glaeser said the Lifelong Learning Series began with a brainstorming session between Carroll Lutheran Village and a focus group of community organizations that included McDaniel College, Carroll Community College, the Carroll County Arts Council, the Historical Society of Carroll County, Carroll County Public Library and Carroll Hospital Center.

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The first Lifelong Learning classes started in January 2013 with drawing and painting classes, exercise and movement, beginner and fearful swimmer classes, and an anthropology series called "Being Human." Each year, new classes have been added.

"I've learned something new — something that I didn't know — in every class I've taken," said Meg Edleman, a Village resident who has taken a long list of Lifelong Learning Series classes over the past few years. "Anthropology," she said and then laughed. "I never thought I'd take a class on that that in my life, and I enjoyed it. I took a class on death and dying, how to avoid scams, one on how to write a novel, water aerobics and now Aqua Zumba.

"Aqua Zumba involves your body as well as the mind," Edleman said. "You have to constantly teach the old body. I'm taking balance, too, since I fell. Everybody needs to take that class as they get older. It teaches you to exercise parts of your body you don't even know you had. Who knew you had core muscles that are an important part of balance?"

Manchester resident Herdis Moser agreed.

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"Primarily I'm a pool exerciser," Moser said. "The instructors designed it to make it suitable for all levels. Anybody who wants to stay mobile needs these classes and you see a range of ages in the classes. Some walk in with a cane, but then the cane goes down and they get in the water where they can move around. It's a good way to exercise because it's not weight bearing like jogging. I highly recommend it. Anybody who wants to stay mobile should take the classes, and don't we all?"

Moser said she feels privileged to be able to use the pool at the Village, something she looked forward to even before she took her first class there. Now she said she takes pool classes every time they are offered and has added Aqua Zumba classes.

Classes in the Lifelong Learning Series range in price from free up to $40 for a six- to eight-week session, according to Glaeser.

"We've had some one-time lectures from our residents, interns at McDaniel and hospital staff, and we have ongoing classes in other areas," Glaeser said. "The pool exercise classes and the Aqua Zumba are popular."

Glaeser said the Village holds winter, spring and fall class sessions of Lifelong Learning opportunities with approximately 200 participants signing up for each session.

"If you open your mind, they'll teach you something," Edleman said. Then she spoke of a class she attended called Heritage Animals. "It was about the breeding of animals years ago compared to the breeds of animals raised today. The oxen they recently brought to the [Carroll County] Farm Museum are the same kind of oxen they had in Williamsburg in olden days. That class was so fascinating that afterward I bent everyone's ear I could about how wonderful it was. I think they started crossing the street to avoid me," she said with a laugh.

Moser talked about a Spanish class she took: "There was no charge for that and the instructor was a wonderful young man from McDaniel College. That was a larger class. I think we had 20 in that one."

"It's very stimulating for us," Edleman said. "They get professors that teach at the two area colleges and they teach us stuff that they are passionate about. It's fun to see them light up and to see how much they love it. I try to take different classes on all the subjects that interest me," she said.

"These classes get you outside of yourself and more engaged with what's going on with the world," Edleman said. "And it's not Grandma 101."

More information

"The Lifelong Learning Series continues as part of the Carroll Lutheran Village wellness initiative in partnership with the Carroll County Arts Council, Carroll Community College, Carroll Hospital Center and McDaniel College," according to Lisa Albin, director of Church and Public Relations at the Village.

Upcoming Lifelong Learning classes at the Village include: drawing and painting, art history, robots on land and sea, Heifer International, swimming for beginners, swimming for fearful swimmers, Aqua Zumba, tai chi, yoga, chair yoga and more. See full details at http://clvillage.org/lifelong-learning.

Registration is required for all Lifelong Learning courses and sessions.

Register by contacting the Village's Wellness Center at 443-605-1070 or at registration@clvillage.org.

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