New A.G.E. program gives adults with development disabilities social outlet

Dale Shoemaker has seen how much confidence and self-esteem his 35-year-old daughter Renee has gained through a city-based program that helps adults with developmental disabilities.

Renee, who has Down syndrome and epilepsy, has been going to the New A.G.E. after-work recreation program for adults since she turned 22. Shoemaker calls it the greatest program the city has developed.

“This program shows (participants) that they are human beings and they have rights,” Shoemaker said. “Renee has developed long-term friendships through the program, and she’s a lot more outgoing now. It can be a lot of running around for us, but it’s well worth it to give her more of a normal life.”

The program is scheduled from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays June 5-Aug. 29 at the Centennial Hills Active Adult Center, 6601 N. Buffalo Drive.

New A.G.E. stands for activities, games and exercise and is open to those 22 or older. It offers a variety of activities and special events that promote individuality, self-esteem and independence.

“We want to get individuals out and promote independence in the community,” said Jennifer Winder, senior inclusion recreation specialist for the city of Las Vegas. “If they’re not with us then they’re usually at home, sitting on the couch and watching TV. What we want to promote is physical activity.”

The program started in 1991 at Lorenzi Park, 3343 W. Washington Ave. More than two years ago, the program moved to Centennial Hills, where participants could partake in more activities, such as swimming, computer basics and fitness classes.

“I trust Jennifer with my life,” Shoemaker said. “All of the participants love her. It’s nice to know that there is a safe environment where we can drop our children off and not worry about having them have to defend themselves.”

The center also has a community garden where individuals can learn how to grow their own produce and use it during their cooking classes.

From 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, the group meets for bowling at Santa Fe Station, 4949 N. Rancho Drive.

Other activities include watching movies, arts and crafts, bingo and scavenger hunts.

“The great thing about being based at the center is that parents can drop off their children and join the Active Adult Center to participate in activities,” Winder said. “It’s a win-win.”

The program is year-round, but open registration is available for the summer session through Aug. 29. The program ranges between $21 and $35, which covers activity fees.

Winder also hosts Leisure Connection, a social group for high-functioning adults with developmental disabilities. Activities include bowling, movies, lunch and dinner outings, sports events and leisure education classes.

The group typically goes out once or twice a month, and the cost ranges between free and $30.

In addition, Camp Cal, an overnight camping trip to Calabasas, Calif., is scheduled for Sept. 15-19 for adults 22 or older.

Programs such as these can help individuals with developmental disabilities grow within a supportive environment by becoming more social and active, Winder said.

The trip is $400 for the week and includes transportation, food and lodging.

“We’ve had a very positive response from the community,” Winder said. “The parents have been great at spreading the world. We’re known as one of the best-kept secrets in Las Vegas.”

For more information, call 702-229-5177.

Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at or 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.