Creating a Sense of Fun

Have you ever made new friends by creating something together?  We recently sat down with Ebenezer Senior Living resident Cookie to hear about ways she has been learning and making new connections through classes with COMPAS teaching artists as part of our Artful Aging™ program. 

One class Cookie particularly enjoyed was when teaching artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella led a class of active older adults in creating puppets from a variety of found and purchased materials. “I don’t consider myself an artist in any way – but it was fun!” said Cookie.

Each time the class gathered, new friends were made as each student created their one-of-a-kind puppet. Some of the students weren’t sure what kind of puppet to make, but Cookie knew right away. She would make a puppet of her favorite alter ego, Betty Boop!

“I’d never done any art, or completed an art project until I took this class,” said Cookie. “Chris was good at helping us focus on the doing, rather than the thinking.”

First she collected what she had on hand – glasses, parts from a china doll, and silk and satin fabric. Then she worked alongside friends new and old to create her masterpiece. Christopher guided each of them through the process of building a papier-mâché head, molding the face, and painting on features.

“The artists were there to assist so you never got stuck. I fell in love with puppet making. It was okay to have fun… Everybody contributed 100% … nobody said ‘not today’,” said Cookie.

After several classes the puppets were finally done, but Cookie thought her puppet was still lacking a little something. A trip to the store yielded just the thing – tiny pearl bead necklaces to finish off her outfit.

Cookie thought her final product was perfect, and displays Betty proudly in her room. Her grandchildren love to stop by and take turns holding Betty. “The puppets give you a sense of being alive… a real sense of accomplishment.”

Cookie created her puppet as part of our Artful Aging™ program, which helps older adults unleash creativity, find purpose, and build relationships through programs with professional teaching artists. Interested in learning more, or booking a program in your community? Contact Marian Santucci at

- by COMPAS staff member Juliana Anderson Wilkins