Ah, the car. The all-American symbol of independence. Children look forward to that year when they are able to obtain a license. It means freedom from having to be chauffeured by a parent or sibling. You don't have to be a teenager to appreciate the value of using a car. Most people would prefer to be able to get out and about as they please. But for people who are older or people with disabilities, driving a car or even being a passenger can have physical obstacles.

How do you get in and out of a seat that requires making a lateral move when you've recently had hip surgery? How do you step on the gas when you don't have full muscle strength in your leg to properly control acceleration? What if you are a wheelchair user?

There are features to every car that appeal to people with different physical needs. Seats that accommodate short people or very tall people, steering columns that adjust up or down, heated seats and more.

When selecting a vehicle, here are some things to consider:

* How wide are the doors? Two-door cars have a much wider door opening, although the doors themselves are heavier to open. Some minivans now come with doors that can be opened and closed automatically with a push button.

* Is there storage space for wheelchairs and other mobility aids? Is the trunk large enough for a lightweight transport chair or rollator? Or does the backseat door open wide enough to load this type of mobility aid? An SUV or minivan affords a roomier interior, larger doors and more storage space than a car.

* How easily can the vehicle be adapted and what would the cost be?

There are also add-on aids available that can improve a driver's range of vision, accommodate for hearing loss and help with mobility issues while still providing adequate controls for safe driving as well as safety for the driver.

To learn more about what is on the vehicle market, plan to attend the program, "My Car, A Symbol of Independence," at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16 at the Senior Center. Rita Linnens with Kansas Truck will speak on advances in automotive mobility technology. You will learn what is available to add to your vehicle to help you remain independent.

The program begins with a demonstration (with a demonstration vehicle) in the parking lot at 11:30 a.m., followed with a presentation at 12:15 p.m. in the center. No charge for the program; public is invited.

Beginning Word classes

Beginning Word computer classes will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 16 and 23. Garden City Community College instructor Carol Ham will give you instructions on how to use Microsoft Word software. Sign up at the center or call 272-3620; space is limited.

Domino winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Domino Tournament held on Thursday. Winners were George Pappas, first place; Bob Zubeck, second place; and Roger Morris, third place.

Domino Tournaments are held regularly at the Senior Center. Watch for the next one scheduled and plan to attend.

Scheduled activities

Thursday: TOPS will meet at 8:30 a.m. Art class will meet at 10 a.m. Ambassador Singers will practice at 1 p.m.

Friday: Line dancing class starts at 8:30 a.m. Check-in/out for the Craft Shop is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. STEPS exercise classes are at 10:30 a.m. St. Catherine Hospital will offer a health services nurse to do screenings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge is played at 1 p.m. Nutrition Council will meet at 1 p.m.

Saturday: The pool room will be open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday: Happy Grandparents Day.

Monday: Walking begins at 8:30 a.m. at Lee Richardson Zoo. STEPS exercise classes are at 10:30 a.m. Humdinger Band will meet at 12:30 p.m. Double pinochle is played at 1 p.m. Finney County Transit Committee meets at 2 p.m. Upbeats will practice at 3 p.m. Duplicate bridge is played at 7 p.m.

Tuesday: Pitch is played at 12:45 p.m. Duplicate bridge begins at 1:15 p.m. The Senior Association Board will meet at 2 p.m. The Finney County Committee on Aging will meet at 3:30 p.m. Bridge is played at 7 p.m.

Sept. 16: Line dancing is at 8:30 a.m. Library check-in/out is at 11 a.m. "My Car, a Symbol of Independence" program with Rita Linnens from Kansas Truck will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the parking lot. Pinochle is played at 1 p.m. Life Writing Group and the Sewing Group meet at 1 p.m. (bring your projects and join the groups). Beginning Word computer class with Carol Ham is from 1 to 3 p.m. Sign up at the center; space is limited. The Senior Citizens Association will host a dance from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. The band playing is "The Blue Notes." Bring cookies for the break.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Taco salad, Corn O'Brien, tortilla chips, sherbet.

Friday (Fresh Fruit Friday): Sweet and sour chicken, steamed rice, broccoli, applesauce, whole wheat bread.

Monday: Polish sausage, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, tropical fruit, bun.

Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas, corn, broccoli, cherry crisp, whole wheat roll.

Sept. 16: Bierock casserole, carrots, tossed salad, baked beans, fruit gelatin.

Visit the Senior Center of Finney County Web site at www.seniorcenterfc.com.Norma Nichols is the director for the Senior Center of Finney County.