Now is a Great Time to Learn Something New in Champaign-Urbana
Our earliest years of life are flooded with opportunities to learn at every turn. Just ask a child you know what they are learning these days and you will not only hear all about what is happening at school, but the other activities and athletics they are exploring to learn new things and improve their skills. Kids are not lacking when it comes to finding places to learn.
What you may not know is that as we age, a breadth of opportunities to learn new things still exists. Particularly in Champaign-Urbana, we have a number of organizations and institutions that make lifelong learning available to adults of all ages. Our community has a high value for learning in all stages of life. You just may not know how many different places you can find something you’d like to learn about during this season of life!
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Illinois: Known by its acronym, OLLI is a membership-based institute that offers programs and activities like lectures, study groups, travel opportunities and different collaborations with the University of Illinois community. Year-long memberships begin July 1 and run through June 30. Half-year memberships may also become available midway through the year. You must be at least 50 years old to join OLLI. A full year membership costs $180 and a second person in the same household can register for $155 according to its website. Membership includes one free course of your choice per year; additional eight-week courses are $40 and four-week courses are $20. (NOTE: Fees are as of Summer 2019.) Some past courses include “Our Amazing Universe”, “Popular Ballroom Dances”, and “The Art of Collecting Art”. Additional membership benefits include one free study course a year (groups organized and facilitated by OLLI members), free lunchtime lectures, social activities, and special events. Members also are eligible to receive an I-Card, which comes with access to the U of I Library and free service on all Champaign-Urbana MTD bus routes. Click here for information on becoming a member. Read our feature on OLLI here.
Parkland College Community Education: If you’re looking for specialized courses such as Beginning Chinese or Foundations of Investing, you’ll find these and more through Parkland College. The Giertz Gallery at Parkland offers things such as Art Expeditions, and special opportunities come up through Staerkel Planetarium. Of course you’ll find a wealth of courses on photography, computers and more through their offerings, too. Browse the current Community Education line-up by visiting here and clicking on the link to the catalog.
Spurlock Museum: The Spurlock Museum of World Cultures has a combination of permanent and temporary exhibits that serve as a springboard for unique programs, tours and special events. Admission to Spurlock Museum and its events is free but a $3 donation is suggested. All public areas of the museum are accessible to visitors with mobility issues; seating is limited in the Knight Auditorium. There are many benches and chairs located throughout the museum and folding stools with carrying straps are available for use while visiting the museum. Catch activities like “Mindful Meditation” on a regular basis and check the Spurlock Museum calendar for lectures that may interest you.
Champaign Public Library: Looking to learn how to take pictures on your smartphone or tablet? How about assistance starting a new email account or joining a book club? The Champaign Public Library has many great (FREE) lifelong learning opportunities. Champaign cardholders can even access Lynda.com for free, which offers soft skill courses like leadership skills, time management, communication and more, in addition to their professional development courses. The Champaign Public Library website does a great job of rounding up the upcoming activities and current drop-in tech support hours. Click here.
Urbana Free Library: Are you interested in local history or genealogy research? Have you tried to find large-screen computer monitors for you to utilize while working on different projects? You may also find yourself in need of having library books delivered to you at home, for a short period or longer season of time, if you are unable to get to the library. The Urbana Free Library serves Urbana’s senior population with areas of interest such as the Champaign County Historical Archives, Flex-N-Gate Computer Center and a home delivery service, in addition to events offered for adults throughout the month, too.
Urbana Park District: With an active Senior Club, the Urbana Park District offers a number of events that may be of interest to the older adult looking for learning opportunities. Past (FREE) events have included things like iPad 101, a “Rules of the Road” review, gardening and cooking classes, and ukulele workshops. Check out UPD’s current program guide or contact the Urbana Park District Age-Friendly Resource Specialist by calling the Phillips Recreation Center at 217-840-6892. With a registration fee, you can also sign up for sessions of low-impact exercise offered through the park district, including chair yoga, senior strength class and classes designed especially for people with multiple sclerosis.
Champaign Park District 50 Plus Program: For individuals 50+, join this program to socialize, adventure and learn. The cost is $20 for the year (May-April) for C-U residents or $30 for non-residents. Free admission to regular happenings such as card games, trivia, bridge group, chair exercise/cardio workout classes, Computers 101 and more. Visit their website to see how you can get involved.
Urbana Adult Education Center: UAEC offers English as a Second Language classes at the Beginning through Advanced proficiency levels as well as The Odyssey Project, a FREE college-accredited course in the Humanities, offered to workers and low-income adults in the Champaign-Urbana area.