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Lifelong learning at your doorstep

Education continues at Tallgrass Creek

Created date

August 3rd, 2009
KS_0809_learning_john belden
KS_0809_learning_john belden

John Belden doesn t just like being Several Tallgrass Creek residents raised their hands to take an educational bus tour that included barbeque, blues, and jazz. This photo was featured in the KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute s fall catalog. involved in the community where he lives; for him, getting active was as important as unpacking after moving there last year. That sentiment resonates with his neighbors, who have all recently moved to Tallgrass Creek, the Erickson community that opened in Overland Park in 2007. Belden and his wife had lived in a house just two miles away from Tallgrass Creek and were familiar with the community and the full-service lifestyle it offered. Living in a maintenance-free environment where everything was within walking distance, the couple knew they would find more time to do what was important to them. Shortly after joining the priority list putting down a deposit to save their spot in line for an apartment home the Beldens were already getting involved with activities left and right, before they even moved in. Belden says, It was a good way to get acquainted with would-be neighbors and their future community. We like to get involved Since moving to Tallgrass Creek in April 2008, Belden has gotten involved in everything from the genealogy and sports clubs to the interfaith and newsletter committees. We like to get involved, and this is a good place for that, Belden says of their decision to move. Considering how long we ve been open, he adds of Tallgrass Creek, we have a lot going on here. Just shy of two years since opening its doors, the 185-resident community has 37 clubs and activities. Of the resident-run newsletter, which keeps residents apprised of happenings on campus, Belden says, I recognize what we re doing at Tallgrass Creek and the importance in communicating to residents all the activities we have here. Calling for communication A former electrical engineer, Belden dates his calling for communication back to eighth grade. I had a very good English teacher who helped me realize the importance of written communication, he says. As a result, he served on a variety of committees and boards throughout his career and after retirement. He also started a nonprofit to help homeless families. Communication was very important in operating [the committees and nonprofit]. All of his experiences culminate in his current highest priority the Lifelong Learning committee, which brings educational opportunities to Tallgrass Creek. School comes to Tallgrass Creek The Lifelong Learning committee started as a partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Kansas to provide college courses, bringing continuing education right to the Tallgrass Creek campus. Tallgrass Creek works in tandem with the university and contributes funds so all residents can participate in the program for free, says Belden. In turn, the committee of five residents helps coordinate what classes are offered, acting as a voice for the people who live there. For example, Belden and his colleagues administered a survey to everyone who lives at the community to determine what topics they would like as classes. As a result of the survey, Tallgrass Creek now has beginner computer classes, among others. The committee s secondary effort is a monthly lecture series. Topics have included identity theft, changes in the nation s medical system, and a new nearby shopping center presented by its developer. In September, the Lifelong Learning committee will host a local weather forecaster. We re trying to do a variety of programs, Belden says. As a result of the survey, we ve been able to refer or suggest that other clubs and committees have particular subjects. For instance, now Tallgrass Creek has a nature club and public affairs committee. If we get information, Belden adds, we try to pass it on. The Lifelong Learning program has between 45 and 65 participants. As Tallgrass Creek continues to grow, even more people will have a convenient opportunity to keep learning.