Social connections keep seniors healthy
It can be tough to find a parking spot at the Seniors Centre on Francis Street. Most days, the former elementary school is a bustling place, filled with people playing sports, learning a new language, listening to speakers, or simply lunching with friends.
The Centre is a “community hub for older adults – a place to stay active, engaged and healthy,” says Clare Williams, director of programming at the Seniors Association Kingston Region, which operates the Francis Street Seniors Centre and three other sites in Kingston.
Members can participate in more than 200 activities, such as creative writing, dance and music classes, yoga, arts and crafts, and courses on how to use smart phones and computers. One of the most popular activities is pickleball, a cross between tennis and badminton, which is played by about 200 people every week. Chair yoga and Parkinson’s exercise programs are also popular.
Seniors can also learn a new language. The Centre offers classes in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Arabic and Portuguese.
“People are not just living four or five years after their retirement − they are living 30 and 40 years,” says Jean Lawson, the Centre’s director of volunteering and fundraising. “You cannot sit in your home and wait to die anymore. You’ve got 30 more years − what are you going to do if you don’t get out in society? So we created that [environment] here.”
In addition to educational and recreational programs, the Seniors Centre offers free hearing, arthritis, foot care, massage, and denture clinics, plus family counseling and bereavement support. Some programs include a small fee, such as home maintenance, and some health and wellness programs.
Proper nutrition is also encouraged. Fresh, affordable dinners are provided five days in a week at the Francis Street Centre. A three-course meal costs $12. Once a month, the Centre holds a Sunday brunch.
The Seniors Centre also organizes frequent day trips and produces a monthly publication VISTA, which is full of information. Links to podcasts featuring interviews and discussions with local people are available on the Centre’s website.
On a typical day, around 600 people visit and participate in activities at the Centre’s four locations, says Clare. The Centre currently has 5,800 members, about 650 volunteers, and 15 paid staff.
The Centre was founded in 1997 through the amalgamation of the Kingston and Area Senior Citizens’ Council and Kingston Senior Day Centre, both launched in the mid-1970s by seniors who saw a need to help older people in the community.
− Sangita Rani, Kulreet Kaur, Shiv Poojan, Gurjinder Kaur, Harmeen Kaur
For more details, visit https://seniorskingston.ca/
Ontario Government – Seniors’ Centres: https://www.ontario.ca/page/seniors-centres