Toddler Activity Center

JACKSONVILLE — As controlling administrator of the Jacksonville Chief Wellness and Action Center, Christy McMillion is a archetypal of multitasking — planning events, disposed schedules and alike autograph grants.

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The abandoned time her day slows bottomward is aback she makes the circuit at the center, because in every allowance and about every corner, someone’s abatement her bottomward to ask a question, ambition her a acceptable day or cull her abreast to attending at the latest pictures of grandkids. If it looks like she’s interacting with admired ancestors members, it’s because that’s absolutely how she describes her appearance of every being who comes to the center.

“These bodies are like a big ancestors to me, and I absolutely adulation alive with them and demography affliction of them,” she said. “I aloof break busy, and I do things. It’s allotment of my job.”

The accolade is a base gesture, she said, accustomed how abundant she loves what she does.

McMillion’s charge to the center, its advisers and abnormally the bodies it serves has not gone disregarded in the greater Jacksonville community, either. Recently, the Jacksonville Sertoma Club gave her its Service to Mankind Award.

“I was afraid aback they did that, and I’m grateful. I don’t attending at what I do in the way that somebody should accord me an accolade for it,” she said.

Barbara Thompson, carnality admiral of Jacksonville Sertoma, is additionally a advance at the center. She said she’s apparent immediate the abracadabra McMillion brings to her role, accumulation operational ability with a caring touch.

“Christy absolutely cares,” Thompson said. “She absolutely cares about what she does and about the people. I was a administrator of a nonprofit, so I apperceive what it’s like aback you’ve got advisers and bodies advancing in who charge help. Christy aloof does aggregate so well.”

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“She absolutely cares about accomplishing the appropriate affair financially and accomplishing the appropriate affair for the bodies who appear in there. She goes out of her way for people. Her aperture is consistently open, and I don’t apperceive how she gets annihilation done because bodies are in there all the time. Yet she never turns anyone away. I aloof anticipate she’s terrific.”

Growing up in and marrying into the military, she said, she confused about so abundant that relationships with her ancient ancestors was adamantine to appear by, the actual relationships that she’s fostered at work.

“I never grew up about my grandparents,” she said. “I haven’t been about them much, so I affectionate of absent out on that, and my kids accept affectionate of absent out on that as well. At one point, we lived in Guam for two years, and we were so far abroad from ancestors and friends. That was asperous on us.”

“When we got stationed here, I activated for a brace of jobs, and I was offered two: One was in Little Rock, and one was actuality at this chief centermost as a bookkeeper. This was a beneath drive, so I absitively I would appear to assignment actuality and not booty as abundant money but absorb added time with my ancestors instead of alive aback and forth. Little did I apperceive I was action to abound to adulation these people, too.”

After three years as a bookkeeper, McMillion confused into the executive-director position, a role that anchored her charge to the success of the centermost and the all-embracing bloom and wellness of the bodies who use its services. And that agenda is substantial. McMillion estimates the centermost hosted about 1,000 bodies aftermost year for one or added of the center’s programs, from art to Zumba.

“We serve a lot of bodies with all of our programs,” she said. “How we calculation socialization is basically anybody that comes in actuality and takes allotment in any program. Using that formula, we did about 16,000 units of socialization aftermost year.”

The Jacksonville centermost additionally served added than 11,000 commons centralized and delivered about 48,000 added to the homebound in Sherwood, Jacksonville and arctic Pulaski County. It’s an breadth of operations that McMillion describes as alimentative senior’s bodies, minds and spirits.

“There are bodies who abatement through the cracks. They don’t assignment anymore; maybe they’re on disability. They can’t drive anymore, or they ability drive but not far,” she said. “People charge amusing alternation because bodies advance off amusing interaction. You can become a anchoress and aloof don’t eat well; again your bloom starts to decline.”

McMillion said commons and busline to and from the centermost were the centerpiece of operations aback she came to assignment here, and while those factors absorb an important function, that abandoned doesn’t aboveboard with the alteration demands of seniors.

“We had some activities like quilting, dominoes, cards, but as the babyish boomers angry 60 and bodies were alive to an beforehand age, they didn’t appetite to appear actuality and quilt,” she said. “We had a stigma about us that we had all these old bodies aloof sitting about cat-and-mouse to die. It was aloof affectionate of anguish and doom.”

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McMillion fabricated it her mission in action to change things. Beneath her watch, the architecture was bigger and broadcast to board a tornado safe allowance that can authority 400 people, a allowance that doubles as action space. She formed endlessly to change the circumlocution acclimated at and about the centermost in the hopes that it would change accessible perception, too.

“We acclimated to be alleged the Jacksonville Elderly Activities Program, JEAP, but we don’t appetite to use that word, ‘elderly’ anymore, either. We don’t appetite to abstracted bodies based on age,” she said. “We’re aggravating to get abroad from that word, ‘senior,’ but it’s hard. Bodies attempt with what to alarm us.”

McMillion additionally guided the center’s acceptance as a wellness centermost in backward 2011. This was added than aloof semantics for the name, she explains. It certified the center’s programming as acceptable seven ambit of wellness, including physical, amusing and spiritual. Today, McMillion and her agents use those ambit as a criterion aback because new activities. As a result, the account agenda has become awash with a absolute accumulating of agreeable things to do.

“We accept tai chi, and we accept Bible study; both of those abatement beneath airy wellness,” McMillion said. “We accept armchair yoga; that’s concrete wellness. We’ve had computer classes and classes for the iPad that amuse bookish wellness. We additionally accept bedfellow speakers throughout the year to allocution about scams, suicide in beforehand adults and depression, and all of these administer to one or added wellness areas.”

McMillion has an eye for the different aback it comes to programming, generally aggravating out things she sees at conferences or in added association centers. That’s how Drums Alive formed its way into the agenda at the center, one of the few chief programs to action Drums Alive in Arkansas, McMillion said.

“Drums Alive hits on every affect that anybody has,” she said. “The chic is geared to area you can board bodies of all physical-fitness levels at the aforementioned time. Bodies can sit bottomward and drum. They can angle up and do it. They can do abandoned the arm movements if that’s all they’re able to do.”

“Plus, music is acclimated for cerebral analysis and brainy wellness in bodies of all ages, from afore bearing all the way up until the end date of life.”

Other activities augment seniors’ bookish ancillary with a applied twist, such as the six- and eight-week chic alternation on abatement prevention, diabetes administration or advantageous cooking. Still added programs accommodate concrete activities with a aggressive twist, such as bean-bag baseball and armchair volleyball teams that attempt intramurally and occasionally adjoin alfresco competitors.

Tanya Kopp, the center’s activities administrator back August, said McMillion’s alertness to accord new things a try is aloof one angle of her capability as a leader.

“She is addition who takes ascendancy and does as abundant as she can,” Kopp said. “If there’s article that needs to be done, she does it, and it doesn’t amount if it’s in the kitchen, if it’s janitorial, if it’s activities. If it’s allowance somebody, she’s consistently added than accommodating to do it, which isn’t article you’ll get from every bang-up that you have.”

“Her job is not the easiest job in the building,” said Susan Weaver, bookkeeper. “We accept trips that the seniors go on. Aftermost year they went to Maine; the year afore they went to South Dakota. She goes on those trips, but not aloof to go accept a trip; she’s analogous the trip. She’s authoritative abiding that aggregate goes smoothly, that every allotment of that addle is completed.”

As for the future, McMillion said, she wants to ability bodies beforehand to advice authorize habits that arch off problems that antecedent ancestors accomplished in their aureate years.

“Our ambition age has consistently been 60 or older. We’ve afflicted that to 50 or beforehand now,” she said. “Getting them affianced at an beforehand age, they can bigger apperceive and accept the accent of wellness. We don’t appetite them to be homebound; we appetite them to get affianced afore they appear to that point. Statistics accept accepted if they break affianced and break active, again they’ll be physically alive best in life. That’s acceptable for everybody — the person, their ancestors and the community.”

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