DAVIDSON — Paint, clay, writing and tai chi are some of the Davidson Parks and Recreation Department class offerings to promote education and healthy living. Staff held its first open house Jan. 25 for instructors to offer demonstrations and get people excited.

 “A lot of times people come to the programs because of the instructors,” said Davidson Healthy Living and Wellness Supervisor Leslie Willis. “We wanted to give people a chance to meet the instructors and get to know them.”

The variety of classes is part of the department’s initiative to meet the holistic wellbeing of the community through physical and educational opportunities. Classes are held at the parks and recreation building, 865 South St. Residents pay a lower fee than others, but all are welcome. Enrollment is ongoing.

A new class is Go Go Clay by Carrie Sealey-Morris, who has a mobile ceramic studio. Adults can participate in handbuilding classes Mondays and pottery painting Fridays.

She said working with clay is nothing like other art.

“You don’t have that blank canvas that you are afraid to mess up. You don’t have to wait for specific instruction, you can just get in there,” she said. “I love that kids  (or adults) can just jump right in and make whatever they want. It’s so expressive.”

This year, youth can also have their birthday party at the parks and recreation department with clay building, pottery painting or a nature option. The goal is to offer a place to have a party at a lower cost. 

Another new opportunity promoting healthy living is a self-esteem class for young girls.

“It’s a challenge these days building confidence,” said instructor Kari McCormick of Bella Girl. “This program focuses on self, strength and values and another part is dealing with peer pressure and gossip.”

For exercise and vitality, try Joe Higgins’ tai chi class. Referred to as Chinese yoga, the class has a martial arts base with emphasis on health and exercise to increase energy flow. Though many attendees are older residents, Higgins said anyone older than 18 can participate.

To let minds flow, Gilda Morina Syverson offers “Writing Your Story.” It started a year ago and has been popular with people ages 40-80.

“Lots of people have stories to tell and if they don’t tell that story, it’s going to go away with them,” she said. “With this writing, they will have it for generations after them. Some just want to get it written, others go back and get it published.”

Painting teacher Adam McGalliard has found expression through his art and teaching oil and acrylic painting classes.

“There is a new hunger for arts here,” he said of coming back to his hometown. “It’s fun interaction, discovering talents and enjoying the freedom of making art. It gives you a chance to push your cares aside.”

For instructor Jim Kerr, painting classes also offer a chance to make new friends.

“They like to do things together,” Kerr said of his weekly class. “They go to coffee after class or they bring desserts and like to talk.”

Other programs are talent development for younger kids gifted in academics, cooking for kids afterschool and gardening.

The Parks and Recreation Department plans to hold another open house in March before the spring programs begin. For a full listing and information about the course offerings, visit http://townofdavidson.recdesk.com