SPOTSWOOD, NJ - "We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." These are the words printed on the banner former Spotswood School District Music teacher Barbara Cottrell donated to the Spotswood Office on Aging.
"These are words by which she lives and which she brings to others," Spotswood Office on Aging Director Donna Faulkenberry said of Cottrell.
Since retiring from the Spotswood School District in 2011 after 28 years in education, Cottrell has kept many Spotswood seniors in the game by organizing a whole host of activities from Game Days to the Young at Heart Chorus.
Cottrell put together the first Senior Olympics in 2016 to coincide with the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. The games were such a hit, the Senior Olympics have become a mainstay at the Spotswood Senior Center, holding their third annual competition on July 17.
Twenty-two seniors participated in Tuesday's Senior Olympics that included a variety of events like Plinko, javelin, golf, basketball, ring toss, RC car racing as well as seated group games like volleyball, puzzles, senior center activities and Higher or Lower. Participants earned points for their teams by winning the various activities and of course there was a medal ceremony with the winners showing off their gold, silver and bronze prizes. An opening ceremony kicked off the afternoon of fun.
Faulkenberry spoke with many of the participants to see how they enjoyed the event and found the senior athletes to be "energized" and looking forward to next year's Senior Olympics already.
"You didn't need to be an athlete to succeed and have a great time," one senior Olympian said.
"In addition to Senior Olympics, Barb runs a weekly Corn Hole Game and conducts the Young at Heart Chorus," Faulkenberry said. "She also has instituted a quarterly Game Day where she brings in some of the games from the Olympics along with board games and other ideas she gets from Pinterest. She also works with the school district to bring intergenerational music activities to the seniors."
"This year our chorus teamed up with the Memorial Middle School Chorus and sang together here at the center as well as at the Memorial Middle School Spring Concert," Faulkenberry continued.
Cottrell teamed with current Appleby and Schoenly Music teacher Lauren Shaughnessy to bring a Drum Circle, featuring Spotswood School District students to the Spotswood Senior Center. Cottrell's Young at Heart Chorus will be traveling to the Chelsea in East Brunswick on July 26 to combine with their chorus for a special performance. Next week will also feature a Name That Tune contest on July 25.
The Spotswood Office on Aging works to provide residents 55 years of age and older the resources they need to continue to live independently and remain an active part of the borough community. It is located at 1 Arlington Avenue and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Senior Center is open from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
"We'll be at National Night Out on August 7 for anyone who wants to join or find out more about our office and center," Faulkenberry said.
National Night Out will be held on August 7 at the Municipal Complex on Summerhill Road from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.