CONSTANCE BAY – The challenge of developing successful programming for seniors aged 55 and up is the huge age range that covers and coming up with activities attractive to everyone.
That is the challenge the new Constance Buckham’s Bay Community Association (CBBCA) 55+ director faces, and she is trying to tackle the problem head on, efficiently and effectively. Constance Bay Pharmacy owner Tamara Awada took on the director’s role following last July’s CBBCA annual general meeting.
On Saturday, Sept. 28 Awada gathered a number of CBBCA 55+ stakeholders for an afternoon meeting at the NorthWind Wireless Fibre Centre in Constance Bay. Those stakeholders included new and long-standing senior community members, retired CBBCA 55+ director Andy Rapoch and Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre’s Amanda Labbé
The goal was to create programming for a wide range of Constance Bay senior community members.
“I want to start by word-of-mouth within our group and build on small successes,” Awada told the group of 11. “We want to build up successes.”
The first step is to try to come up with a plan of what has worked and what might work.
“I’ve watched seniors come and seniors go,” said 33-year-resident Sue Cain. “There’s not enough here to keep them here.”
“There’s lots of seniors out here that need help,” Suzanne Lee said.
Two programs considered successes at the community centre is the Crafts by Colleen program and Bridge Group.
Awada has only been a local businesswoman in the Bay for the last three years, but in that time Awada and the Constance Bay Pharmacy have been major community contributors to the area.
“I have got to know a lot of great and amazing community opportunities,” she said. “But the seniors do need help. There’s a lot of loneliness in the area. Transportation is an issue.”
Programming ideas submitted at the meeting included potluck nights, ladies and Men’s nights out, woodworking and music programming, strength, stretching and balance programs, a creative writing class as well as others. The group talked about partnering with other organizations.
“Why can’t we get the Legion and the community centre working together?” one attendee asked.
“I love the idea of bringing classes out here,” Cain said. “The schools used to do this.”
“We’re looking to start a low or no-cost program as soon as possible,” Awada said. “As a start.”
Following the meeting, the group decided to proceed on several fronts. Job Number One was seeing what space and times are available at the community centre, and then committing to a program to see what kind of success it can find.
“Seniors need to have their own space,” Awada said. “But there are also transportation issues.”
The most likely first program will be a creative writing group, as one volunteer had already done much of the leg work on that and was just looking for space. He wanted to get the program running before those who had already committed their interest, lost that interest. The unofficial CBBCA 55+ board would also reconvene for another meeting in the near future to check on progress on initial program offerings while also broadening their scope.