Elder College on the grow

Programming at Greenglade has seen jump in members

Pottery student Glynne Turner starts a project as Deb Hewat (background) works on a bowl at the Greenglade Community Centre.

In one year, membership at the Elder College at the Greenglade Community Centre has gone from 60 people to 150, marking great success for a program that caters to area seniors.

Elder College, run by Panorama Recreation, started at Greenglade in Sidney in January, 2011 and has seen an explosion of people taking advantage of its $15 membership fee. For that fee, says Panorama’s community recreation co-ordinator Dustin Ray-Wilks, people in the 50-plus age range can take advantage of low-cost programs, from pottery and fitness to education and more. Throughout January, they are offering two memberships for the price of one.

The facility also recently was upgraded and held an open house Jan. 9. Thanks to a Service Canada New Horizons grant, Ray-Wilks said they expanded and improved the Elder College lounge space, added more programs and brought in more volunteer instructors. They also hired a part-time assistant.

“We’ve probably doubled the number of courses on offer,” he said.

Birgit Larsen, who calls herself a new senior at 65, was at the open house to see what programs are to her liking.

“I’ve seen Elder College advertised at Panorama and now, at 65, I am interested in taking some of the programs. It’s pretty interesting when you turn 65 and are a senior — you start to receive your pension cheques.”

Larsen said she saw a few programs she might be interested in taking, especially one on writing down memories.

“The stories that people have to tell,” she continued, “and soon, I will be one of them.”

She recalls riding a motorcycle all the way to the Northwest Territories, and said retelling an adventure like that would be great fun.

In the pottery studio, students Glynne Turner and Deb Hewat were busy working on new and ongoing artwork. Turner said she started it last year after having no experience and after two lessons, was hooked.

“I tried it and I just fell in love with it,” she said.

Hewat added she and many others have been in the program since it started and have created a great community, built around making pottery.

“It’s such a great mix,” she said. “You can share successes, learn something new and it’s time for yourself.”

The Greenglade Community Centre itself has added new programs and spaces for all ages — from a weight room and new teen centre, to gym space and a preschool program. Ray-Wilks called it an inter-generational community centre, as they try to build a hub for children, adults and seniors to interact.

Learn more about Greenglade and the Elder College programs at www.crd.bc.ca/panorama/booking/greenglade-comm.htm or call 250-656-7271.


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