Akiyama Wellness Center to benefit Yu-Ai Kai’s Healthy Aging Initiative

(Conference Community Room.jpg): The conference-community room. photos courtesy of Yu-Ai Kai

SAN JOSE — Wednesday, Oct. 20 marked the first public viewing of the Dr. James Akiyama Wellness Center, the second affiliate location of San Jose’s Yu-Ai Kai. The center is located at 110 Jackson St., just around the corner from the Yu-Ai Kai building.

Dr. Hajime James Akiyama, for whom the center is named, passed away in 2007 and left a portion of his estate to the nonprofit senior center. Akiyama was a Watsonville, Calif. native who eventually settled in Santa Clara and earned his bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University. He continued his educational accomplishments by earning a master’s and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. Akiyama then became a professor of microbiology and immunology at San Jose State.

For the past two years, the Akiyama Wellness Center (AWC) has been a $1.3 million renovation project, transforming what used to be one of the oldest Boys and Girls Clubs of America locations in Silicon Valley.

While the cost and time frame exceeded original expectations, the result is an attractive new home that intends to take Yu-Ai Kai’s senior programs to the next level. The facility spans 5,000 square feet and is under a long-term lease with the City of San Jose.

The AWC has three classrooms, a large exercise room with mirrors, a conference room, and a kitchen. It also features an outdoor blacktop with basketball courts and a grassy field behind the building.

A statement issued by Yu-Ai Kai shared insights from board and staff members. “With the additional space, Yu-Ai Kai can offer more to the community,” said Executive Director Sophie Horiuchi-Forrester. “We are very grateful for the support we have received from the community — donors, volunteers, grants and the City of San Jose for this building. It really has taken a village to make this center a reality and we count on their ongoing support and participation to keep it a growing and thriving place for healthy aging programs.”

The AWC will be available for the public to rent for meetings in the evenings and weekends.

The AWC is an extension of Yu-Ai Kai’s Healthy Aging Initiative, introducing various programs and services that embrace a healthy lifestyle, primarily for seniors. The goal of the center is to provide a place where seniors and other community members can gather to exercise, make friends, and learn healthy living habits. The AWC will also provide health screenings, nutritious cooking classes and demonstrations, and senior taiko, in addition to board games and other recreation activities onsite.

“Yu-Ai Kai is very excited with the opening of the Akiyama Wellness Center, and we welcome everyone to take part in the informative and beneficial classes and programs that will be offered. The AWC represents an important milestone in Yu-Ai Kai’s 36-year history of providing quality programs and services to our community,” said Yu-Ai Kai Board President Ben Katai.

The grand opening allowed for a first public viewing before the center officially opens for business in November. Several hundred guests were estimated to pass through the open house, and a short program was delivered on behalf of Yu-Ai Kai board and staff members. Several key community volunteers were recognized, including Wes Mukoyama, former executive director of Yu-Ai Kai; Terry Ota, Dale Sasaki, Vic Nakamoto, Jimi Yamaichi and Yoshihiro Uchida. San Jose Councilman Sam Liccardo, San Jose Assistant City Manager Ed Shikada and a San Jose city analyst, Rahil Butt, also were recognized as being instrumental to the AWC project.

The open house celebration showcased all rooms and features of the newly renovated center including a special art sculpture, the Giving Tree. On permanent display in the lobby of the AWC, the Giving Tree is an original artwork designed by Janice Oda and crafted by metal sculptor Michael Yoji Nagamoto. The sculpture is modeled after a modern ginkgo tree, and symbolizes longevity, health and vitality. Its purpose is to serve as a donor recognition display with donations accepted to support healthy aging programs. Donors may choose to have a leaf of the tree or foundation stone engraved.

For more information about the Akiyama Wellness Center, contact Mai Yamamoto at myamamoto@yuaikai.org. For more information about the Giving Tree donor initiative, contact Debbie Saito at dsaito@yuaikai.org or (408) 294-2505. For more information about Yu-Ai Kai, visit www.yuaikai.org.

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