The United Seniors of Oakland (USOAC) and Alameda County held their 15th Annual Healthy Living Festival to promote health and wellness for senior citizens at the Oakland Zoo last week.
More than 2,000 Alameda County seniors attended the fair, which featured 64 exhibitors, Tai Chi, Zumba, line dancing lessons, and the chance to walk through the zoo.
“It’s like a field trip for older adults,” Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said. “It gives people a chance to socialize, and that’s fulfilling when seniors from all ethnicities, income levels, and backgrounds intermingle.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who attended the festival, announced the city’s commitment to being one of the American Association of Retired Persons’ aging-friendly cities. The organization added Oakland to its list of cities this month.
“I love seeing our city cherishing elders, celebrating in the sunshine dancing,” said Mayor Schaaf. She said her office is planning “a series of listening tours to talk to our elders in this community about what we as a city can do to be more aging-friendly.”
In 2002, the USOAC started the Walkable Neighborhoods for Seniors club, to promote safety and healthy living for seniors. The club’s activities eventually became the Healthy Living Festival. The event is now the biggest resource fair in Alameda County, said USOAC program director Ansar Muhammad.
“To see this venture off from an event that I started just for walk-club groups is big,” Muhammad said.
Miley said the event now also mobilizes seniors to take political action. Organizers invited attendees to sign petitions for pedestrian safety, affordable housing, and more funding to support those who are homebound and in need of nutritious meals.
Jackie Morris, 70, who suffers from lower back pain, used her walker to get around at the exhibitor tables and visit the animals throughout the zoo.
“By coming here, I can become educated,” she said, “because it’s much information for seniors coming from people that are very knowledgeable of what they do.”