Tri-County Mental Health Services CEO Tom Petrizzo kicked off the recent graduation ceremony for the region’s latest Aging Mastery Program. Behind him, Older Adult Educator Becky Franklin is ready to hand graduates their diplomas.

Eighteen Northlanders recently became the latest group of older adults to tackle aging not just with grace, but knowledge and action.

The Aging Master Program (AMP) held at the Liberty Community Center celebrated completion of the 10-week program Thursday night with nearly 50 graduates, family and friends. The program is the third held in Clay County this year.

Tom Petrizzo, CEO of Tri-County Mental Health Services, first addressed the group by noting the mental health concept of resilience. “We work on resilience a great deal with our young people,” he said, “but it’s true for all of us at every age. “Those things that build resiliency help you stay healthy and well.”

Other topics included everything from hydration and exercise to advanced planning, including financial planning and end-of-life decisions.

Some of the lessons have already been applied. One woman told how she recently experienced car trouble and had to walk home, something she doubts would have been possible before the class. “I liked that lady who came in and told us we need all that exercise,” she laughed. “I don’t think I would have made it home that day otherwise.”

Graduates and instructors from throughout the Northland gathered at the region’s latest Aging Mastery Program during the Aug. 17 ceremony at the Liberty Community Center. Participants included (from left, front row) Co-facilitator Becky Franklin, Diane Jackson, Pauline Cooper, Beth Hunter, Joann Nichols, Mabel Bruce, Co-facilitator Hailey Kenkel (back row) Emily Sharp, Pat Miller, Janice Carter, Nora Bailes, Larry Mendyk, Kathy Mendyk, Jackie Williams, Linda Wutich, Carolyn Savino, Dick Wilbur, (not shown) Donna Horning and Sandy Buchanan

Co-facilitators Becky Franklin and Hailey Kenkel led the gathering. Franklin is older adult educator for Tri-County Mental Health Services while Kenkel is community services coordinator Liberty Parks and Recreation.

“We’re all involved because these birthdays keep rolling around,” Franklin said. “We can all benefit from thinking a little about how we can better do that.”

The graduates were aged 60 to 84 and included Carolyn Savino, Liberty; Diane Jackson, Liberty; Donna Horning, Liberty; Beth Hunter, Liberty; Emily Sharp, Liberty; Jackie Williams, Kansas City; Janice Carter, Liberty; Joann Nichols, Liberty; Kathy Mendyk, Liberty; Larry Mendyk, Liberty; Linda Wutich, Kansas City; Mabel Bruce, Liberty; Nora Bailes, Kansas City; Pauline Cooper, Liberty; Phyllis Dean, Kansas City; Dick Wilbur, Kearney; Sandy Buchanan, Kansas City; and Pat Miller, Liberty.

Major sponsors of the event included Tri-County, Clay County Senior Services, Mid-America Regional Council and the Liberty Park and Recreation department. Two more classes are planned although one is already filled. Openings remain for a class in Excelsior Springs. For more information, contact Paula Zigmond at 816-455-4800 or e-mail: