Meet the Trainer: Jeanette Giancaspro
Since March is National Craft Month – and Women’s History Month! – we’re celebrating by catching up with Senior Planet from AARP’s most senior trainer and leader of the Creative Creations Discussion Group – Jeanette Giancaspro.
Jeanette is a life-long educator (her first teaching job was at age 17) with a master’s degree in education and technology who, for going on 11 years, has shared her passion for learning with Senior Planet and helped to shape the vibrant community that we are today. She’s a woman who is playing an important part in Senior Planet and in its history.
What led you to becoming a Senior Planet trainer?
It was back in 2012 – I had been a teacher my whole life but had taken some time off to raise my two kids. I saw the posting for an OATS trainer (this was before Senior Planet even existed) and I literally jumped up out of my chair and I yelled to my husband, “I found my job! This was made for me.” And it’s the best job I’ve ever had – I’m always learning new things not only because I have to, but because the participants make me want to.
My favorite part is the feedback that I get from our participants. It hits you when someone tells you not only that you’ve changed their life, but that you’ve saved their life. There’s just no other feeling like that.
Since it’s National Craft Month, tell us about the weekly discussion group you run: Creative Creations!
It’s the highlight of my week. It is a virtual gathering of about 25 or 30 participants, most of them are regulars, who are the most incredibly talented and gifted and positive and supportive people you would ever want to meet. We have artists, fashion designers, storytellers, poets, colorists, jewelry makers, pottery makers, we’ve even had people sing for us! You never really know what is going to happen.
And it’s not only a place to share art but it’s also a place for encouragement. Some people have cried when they found the group – they are so moved by the people and the community that has been created in Creative Creations. It goes so much further than the art, so to speak.
Why should everyone try out crafting, even if they don’t consider themselves to be creative?
I really do believe that everybody has creativity. A lot of people say, “I’m not creative, I’m not creative!” But in a community like Creative Creations, we learn that there are many different types of creativity and art.
Additionally, it has been proven that the human brain does not stop learning until we take our last breath. One way that you keep your brain active is by challenging yourself to learn new things – you might not even know that you have those creative juices flowing until you get started!
What are some activities that you love to do outside of work?
I do love to create, and I do sell some of the jewelry I make, but it’s more about creating and trying new techniques. I do mixed-media art, I scrapbook, I make cards, I make chocolate – I just learned how to make hot cocoa bombs!
What does Aging with Attitude mean to you?
It means taking all the doubts and misconceptions and stereotypes that people have about aging and throwing them back in everybody’s face.
Creative Creations meets virtually every Tuesday from 5:30-6:30pm ET and is open to anyone aged 60 and over. Click here for more details!
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