Join CMSS for our 2024 Fall Benefit

Thursday, September 12, 2024

Bringing Route 66 and Lifelong Learning To CMSS Communities

Everyone is familiar with the phrase “an apple a day keeps a doctor away.” When it comes to keeping your brain healthy and active as you age, lifelong learning is that apple.

According to Pew Research Center, 87 percent of lifelong learners say their activities help them feel more capable and well-rounded. That’s why at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, lifelong learning is a cornerstone of our programming.

As part of this, we’re taking a tour of Route 66, with events and activities related to stops in all nine states along the iconic highway — from Illinois, to New Mexico, to California. Each month, all three CMSS communities — Wesley Place, Covenant Home of Chicago and Hartwell Place — “visit” a location along the route and participate in lifelong learning programming from trivia and art projects to music. Our tour of Route 66 was inspired by the successful lifelong learning program we hosted last year, the Around the World Cruise, which brought international cuisine, music and art to our communities.

Why Route 66?

The 2,500-mile Route 66 passes through Illinois and ends in our very own hometown, Chicago. It symbolizes not only the freedom and romance of the open road, but America’s diverse history. The Route 66 tour is an opportunity for our residents, many of whom have lived in and traveled to some extraordinary places throughout the U.S., to share their experiences from these places, or just strike up conversations about what they learn during each stop on the tour. Some of our Route 66 programs include:

Diner Days. During each stop, CMSS chefs cook up a special meal to celebrate the month’s Route 66 destination. For example, our Route 66 tour will stop in New Mexico during July, so that Diner Day meal may include fajitas, chili or other Tex-Mex fare.

Art. As part of the tour, residents work on art projects related to each stop. John Gould, director of dining and life enrichment at CMSS, said residents have already enjoyed jewelry-making.

Music. Route 66 passes through areas with rich musical traditions, and music is a central part of our trip. During March’s St. Louis, Missouri stop, there was plenty of the blues and jazz music that originated in The Gateway City. Ahead on the tour, in stops like Oklahoma and Texas, participants can look forward to country music and more.

Special connections. CMSS residents received a special treat on their stop in Illinois when they received postcards from students at Hufford Junior High School in Joliet, Illinois, located along Route 66, The postcards were provided by the Joliet Area Historical Museum, and created a special opportunity to connect with people along the route.

Lifelong Learning From Illinois to California

The Route 66 tour began this February with stops in Chicago and Springfield, followed by Missouri in March. In April, communities are featuring cities in Kansas, with stops in Galena and Baxter Springs. Oklahoma is coming up next, with stops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City planned for May.

In November, the trip will end in Los Angeles, California, where residents will participate in a red carpet awards program to highlight accomplishments from community members.

Gould said people’s favorite experiences so far have been listening to the regional music and working on crafts related to the stops on the tour. He also said the tour gives residents the opportunity to share favorite stories.

“A lot of residents are eager for lifelong learning,” Gould said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to share experiences if they’ve been to that state or if they’ve traveled down Route 66.”

We love enabling residents to continue lifelong learning with our unique programming like the Route 66 tour. For more information about the Route 66 tour, contact John Gould at or 773-769-5500. To learn more about CMSS communities, from short-term rehabilitation to long-term care, contact us today.

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