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According to a report from the CDC, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries to older adults in the U.S. In 2017, more than 3 million adults aged 60 to 85 went to the hospital to be treated for a fall. That's an alarming statistic.

Falls can be caused by many things, including loss of muscle strength, loss of your "kinesthetic sense" (that's the awareness of where your body is in space), and numbness in peripheral nerves like those in hands and especially feet, which can result from type 2 diabetes. Purely commonsense factors often play a part in falls as well: Do you have loose area rugs in your home? How about small footstools, or stacks of newspapers lying around? Getting rid of clutter is job one!

Obviously, it's best to prevent a fall whenever possible. Besides fall-proofing your home, you can help prevent falls by improving your balance and by strengthening your leg and back muscles so that you stand straighter and stronger. You'll probably find that standing straight helps you breathe better, too, giving you more energy.

Falls can be prevented by strengthening your core muscles, which also helps with posture and strength. Your core is what holds your vital organs in, and tightening your core takes pressure off your lower back, too.

Some exercise programs, such as tai chi and yoga, naturally include movements that strengthen the long muscles of your back and legs, help you isolate your core muscles, and help you improve balance in the bargain.

Tai chi is a meditative martial art with its roots in China. It has been shown to promote balance, strength, and feelings of well-being in senior populations. Many people may be more familiar with yoga, whose positions such as tree pose or downward dog are commonly seen in exercise classes. Yoga has a reputation for being rather strenuous; however, gentler programs do exist that provide the same balance and strengthening benefits using modified poses.

Whatever program you choose, the important thing is to do it consistently. If you haven't yet added a tai chi or yoga workout into your daily routine, consider these suggestions for working a few moves into your daily activities: Before you pull your chair out from the dining table, hold on to the back of the chair and just stand on one foot for a few seconds – that strengthens your core muscles and boosts your balance quotient. Repeat on the other side. Or try some Toe Taps, one of several exercises highlighted as useful for maintaining balance in a recent AARP magazine article: Stand with one hand on a chair or wall to keep you stable. Keeping both legs straight, lift one leg and point your toes, then touch the ground in front of you. Return that foot back beside the other. Repeat 8 times on each side if you can.

Here's another everyday exercise: When you stand up from your dining chair, try to not use your arms – this can be a hard one, but it's really helpful for strengthening your legs, hip joints, and back. Whenever you're standing at the kitchen counter, push up on your tiptoes – once, twice, three times, and hold it for a count of 3 before relaxing. Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Take a tai chi or yoga class next term at ACE (941-361-6590) and learn more exercises you can do every day to help improve your balance and prevent falls!
by Patricia Rockwood, Adult and Community Enrichment (ACE), Sarasota, Florida

New in North Port

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New in North Port...

Put down the brushes and pick up a cup, because we are going to flip some paint onto a canvas or two! Come on the adventure known as Acrylic Paint Pouring, the techniques that are taking the world by storm. You will start the adventure by learning the basics of Acrylic Paint Pouring, also known as Fluid Art. This fun class is completely hands-on, from mixing your own paints to flipping your own cups. You will quickly become addicted to this art form and amazed at the beautiful abstract painting that you will create with your very first canvas.

This is the ultimate in controlled chaos – and you never have to pick up a brush! Your hands, and the paint, will do all the work. You will learn the proper way of mixing your paints and loading your cups for the perfect pour. You will also learn how to manipulate the canvas to alter the flow and shape of your artwork. Once you have learned the basic technique, the adventure continues with more advanced techniques, including fun accessories like balloons and straws, funnels and strainers. Don’t miss the fun and adventure!


Your instructor is Pam Schmidt, who was a Crime Scene Investigator for two decades and an instructor in forensics – as well as many art and craft fields – before her retirement. She has taught classes in jewelry making, scrapbooking, bookbinding, alcohol inks, and, more recently, acrylic paint pouring. In retirement, Pam turned her attention to art full-time and began learning as much as she could about the things that were happy and fun (which were many!). When she discovered Acrylic Pouring and Fluid Art (which includes alcohol inks, resin, and paint marbling), she knew she had found her niche.


Wanting to learn all she could, she quickly realized that there was no place to take classes specific to acrylic paint pouring other than private classes here and there. So, she created one (she's also a well seasoned and skilled Conference Planner). She created Pouring Artists INTernational, whose sole purpose is to offer a multiday conference solely featuring classes about fluid art from skilled instructors throughout the country. This year is the very first event, and it's being held in Orlando. The events that Pam is planning will travel throughout the country, but she remains here in our community to be able to teach you. You can visit her website to see the classes available for this year's event. The website is


Pam will also be teaching classes in Alcohol Inks this summer – another "fluid art" medium requiring a little finesse and know-how! Alcohol inks need nonporous surfaces for you to best discover their magic, such as treated paper, acetate, glass, leather, or plastic. Fine artists and beginners are taking up the inks to create absolute masterpieces and having fun while doing it.


Alcohol ink often yields spontaneous and unexpected results that are quite beautiful works of art, but the ink can also be directed, with practice, to make landscapes, still lifes, and other artworks. Alcohol ink lends itself well for not only pieces of art but home decor and jewelry items as well. The creative possibilities are endless. It has a magical effect that no other medium can replicate!


This class is designed to get you started so you, too, can explore this medium and become addicted to what you can create in inks!


Classes in Acrylic Pouring and Alcohol Ink are offered at the Sarasota campus as well as North Port. Call or go online for details.

Motivation in Minutes!

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Motivation in Minutes!


Mary Kay Mueller is an author and life skills coach whose message you really can’t afford to miss out on!

MK started her professional career as a high school teacher, but then her circumstances took a nose dive, and she found herself in a domestic violence shelter. This personal experience laid the foundation for her strategy for life, because she discovered that no one could change her life but herself. It was a simple yet powerful insight that she first shared with a small support group of five neighbors.

Soon, hundreds were coming to hear MK’s message each week. Now she trains more than 100,000 people each year – from homeless shelter residents to Fortune 500 executives – through lectures, workshops, and longer programs. She spells out her powerful message of happiness and personal empowerment in several books, including her first book, Taking Care of Me: The Habits of Happiness, as well as her award-winning new book, 8 to Great: The Powerful Process for Positive Change, and its spin-off, 8 to Your Ideal Weight.

ACE is thrilled to present several of MK’s programs this term, including the intriguing “Making Dating Fun Again!,” “Tools for Your Best Life Transitions,” and “8 to Great: The Powerful Process for Positive Change.”

Why not pull up a chair?

Fun Facts About Mosaics

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Fun Facts About Mosaics

Did you know …

… you can mosaic any surface as long as that surface is rigid; it helps if the surface is slightly rough.

… you can add your own roughness with layers of fiberglass mesh and thinset or plaster wrap (what doctors used to use for casts; it’s sold in rolls in most crafts stores). It’s a good idea to do this if you want to mosaic something smooth-sided, such as a bowling ball or your metal toaster (yes, there are people who do this!).

… you can even add rigidity to something soft, such as a hat or a shoe, by applying several thin layers of thinset: mix it up to a consistency like pancake batter, and apply it with a paintbrush. You’ll need several coats, letting each one dry completely before applying the next.

You can find out more about mosaics in any of ACE’s beginning mosaics classes this term. We can’t wait to see what you create!

Day Trippin', Yeah!

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Day Trippin’, Yeah!


Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride – in comfort! Once again, we’ve chartered a real bus (yes, it has cushy seats and a bathroom!) and we’re taking you on some trippy jaunts this fall.


Day Trips on chartered bus - fall term 2018


Saturday, Nov 3, 2018

Dali Museum – Clyde Butcher Exhibition – “Visions of Dali’s Spain”

            If you associate Salvador Dali primarily with those melting clock faces, you are not alone. But in this special exhibition of photographs by renowned Florida photographer Clyde Butcher, you will see another side of the famous Surrealist painter. The Dali Museum in Spain commissioned Butcher to produce a portfolio of photographs of Dali’s Spanish home, including the Village of Cadagues, where Dali spent summers growing up; his villa in Port Lligat; and the rugged area of Cap de Creus – landscapes that all feature prominently in Dali’s artworks.

            Often referred to as “The Ansel Adams of Florida,” Clyde Butcher is best known for his black-and-white landscapes of Florida. He will be present November 3rd to sign copies of his book, “Visions of Dali’s Spain.”


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Florida Botanical Gardens – Holiday Lights Exhibit – Largo, Florida

            If you love tropical plants and tropical critters, you will love the Florida Botanical Gardens: 100 acres of every tropical plant you can name (and many you can’t!). The Gardens are also home to more than 150 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles.

            After a Dutch treat lunch, you will have several hours of daylight to explore the grounds during the afternoon – but save some energy for later! At 5:30 pm, more than 1 million lights come on to get you in a jolly mood for the holidays. You’ll want to wander throughout the gardens for a while longer to enjoy the full effect of the holiday lights before boarding the bus to head for home.


Day Trip on COW Bus – fall term 2018


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Myakka City Lemur Reserve

            When you see a lemur for the first time, you’ll have to agree that lemurs must be the most appealing creatures you’ve ever seen. With their big eyes, soft fur, and long, striped tails, they spell adorable. But it’s important to take their situation seriously: their habitat is shrinking at an alarming rate, and their population is endangered. It’s heartwarming to know that right here in Florida is an organization dedicated to their survival.

The Lemur Conservation Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through managed breeding, scientific research, education, and art.  The Foundation maintains an active office in Madagascar and focuses on community and habitat protection programs. Madagascar is the only place in the world where lemurs are found naturally.

            The 130-acre Myakka City Lemur Reserve in Manatee County opened in 1999 and is home to more than 50 lemurs of six different species. The Reserve is planted with many fruit trees that lemurs love, such as mango, passion fruit, and guava. Two buildings act as indoor/outdoor lemur enclosures. The Myakka City Lemur Reserve facility is open to academic professionals and college-level students for behavioral research opportunities. 

Pass the Hors d'Oeurves, Please

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Pass the Hors d’Oeurves, Please


If you’re retired, you might be taking advantage of that extra free time and doing some traveling that you could never do while you were working. And that means you aren’t home long enough to commit to a 10-week class – or even a 6-week class, most likely.


Well, we have the perfect solution! If you’ve studied our website or our catalog (like we hope you have), you’ll see that we have many one- or two-day courses and workshops designed for people like you who can’t commit to an extended class right now.


One-day workshops give you a taste of all sorts of interesting adventures, from jewelry making to gardening to painting. An hour here, a couple of hours there – whenever you feel like taking a class, we’ve got something to tickle your fancy.

Of course, we hope that when you’re not on the road, you’ll sign up for a longer class so you can give a subject your full attention in more depth. But a one-day class gets you out of the house and gives you a tidbit of learning to whet your appetite. It’s like an hors d’oeuvre for your mind!


Here are a few examples of what’s coming up this summer:


5/12/18        Designing Your Florida Yard (2nd in Series)

            Even if you hire someone to landscape your yard, you need to be able to tell them what to do. Don’t waste your money on plants that don’t belong in a Florida landscape; learn what to plant where, and how to keep them healthy.


5/22/18        The Texting Class: Learning the Bells & Whistles

            Do you feel exasperated when your grandkids want to text instead of talking on the phone? Don’t beat ‘em – join ‘em! Bring your smartphone and learn the ins and outs of texting in this fun class with Bonnie Hammer.


5/23/18        Taking Advantage of the New Tax Rules

            The tax overhaul recently passed by Congress will affect everyone. It’s not too early to start thinking about the ramifications for you and your family. This seminar, taught by Joe Walsh, will clue you in on the details.


6/2/18           Ikebana: Intro to Japanese Flower Arranging

            Meditate with flowers! The art of Ikebana incorporates the simplicity of nature with the beauty and elegance of flowers, taking into account seasonality and the natural shapes of foliage.


6/19/18        Growing & Propagating Antique Roses

            If you’re a transplanted Northerner who loved her roses, you’ll love this workshop. Gary Patton is a Florida gardener who can coax anything to grow in Florida, and he’ll share his secrets with you.


6/20/18        Google Photos: Store, Organize & Share for Free

            If you’re like most people, your phone is chockful of photos of kids, pets, artwork – whatever – and it takes forever to find the one you want to share with someone. Take this workshop and we guarantee that problem will be a thing of the past.


7/10/18        Create a Memory Pendant

            Recycle a charm bracelet or necklace into a memory pendant that has special meaning. You’ll learn wire-wrapping techniques in this workshop that you can use for other pieces as well.


8/23/18        An Abstract Mess: Acrylic Pouring

            With its psychedelic patterns harkening back to the sixties, acrylic pouring is all the rage. See how easy it is to make swirling designs just by mixing some paint and chemicals in a tray! It’s easy as pie and loads of fun. Choose your colors and you’ll have art on your walls in a day.

North Port News

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North Port News


Did you know that if you live in Venice or Port Charlotte, you are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from our newest campus?


You may know North Port as the site of Warm Mineral Springs, one of Florida’s most popular tourist attractions. People travel from all over the world to soak in the mineral-rich water, and many believe it has healing properties.


But another lively attraction recently opened its doors just a bit further south: Yes, ACE now has a home in North Port!


Suncoast Technical College unveiled its North Port branch last fall right off Exit 179 at the intersection of Toledo Blade Boulevard and Cranberry Boulevard (for your GPS, the street address is 4445 Career Lane). ACE classrooms share a building with the Shannon Staub Public Library.


Grab a friend and hightail-it down to North Port for a refreshing dip into ACE’s pool of lifelong learning! Now you can learn to paint like a pro, improve your computer skills, navigate your phone, and trace your roots, among other useful and interesting pastimes, on a beautifully landscaped campus closer to where you live and work.


Here are just a few of the fascinating courses coming up Spring/Summer Term, which runs April 23 – August 30. Registration begins April 9 (April 2 for patrons!):

  • Right Brain Drawing
  • An Abstract Mess
  • One Morning Masterpiece
  • Selling Your Art Online
  • Intro to Windows 10 for Windows Users
  • iPad/iPhone Workshop Step 1
  • Pastels

Whatever your passion, you will probably find a class waiting for you at ACE in North Port! See you there…