June 2021 Update by Kathy Smith, Volunteer Coordinator
The UN WHO has designated 2021 to 2030 as the Decade of Healthy Aging. To support the global movement, our volunteers and facilitators are making special efforts to develop programs to enhance overall health and wellness of adults 50+. You can learn more about the social determinants of health HERE.
June is Seniors Month in Ontario. All through Seniors Month, we plan to promote a new series of Creative Age Programs developed over the past year as a result of or in response to the pandemic. Many of our Creative Age Network members needed time to reflect, redefine priorities and set new goals. Some stepped back from all activities and others identified new interests and subsequently, set new goals. As an ethnographer, my own personal challenge, was all about struggling to stay engaged with the community when fieldwork or onsite projects were not permitted due to lock downs. This required extra efforts to connect and communicate while facing the disquiet of moving on from the familiar and learning how to function from a home office and digital media studio.
The Dorchester Creative Age Art Studio Group successfully transitioned from the onsite Art Studio in the seniors community centre, to an online Art Adventure ZOOM group. They have been meeting online every week for the past year. Congratulations to Penny Wearne and all the group members. I’ll showcase the Dorchester group later in June.
A Community Enterprise
Some talented colleagues, artists and crafters (50+) are launching a collaborative effort to promote and sell creative work through the Creative Age Gift Shop. This month’s featured artist is Lyn Tremblay who creates at home to make colourful clay jewellery. Lyn also makes presentations to share her passion for creating with polymer clay. Visit the Gift Shop here.
Creative Age Journaling
Our new anchor program called Creative Age Journaling will run this summer with free ZOOM sessions on the first Monday of each month. Through the summer, there is a special focus on health and wellness. The Fall program is The Art of Collage and Mixed Media offered through Studio 3 in Hamilton Ontario. Dates will be announced in September.
Creative Journaling online sessions with a small ZOOM group provides an opportunity for participants to learn more about creative writing, memoire writing, storytelling, collage, mixed media, self care, and health/wellness tracking. Participants report they feel more comfortable when they work with a paper journal. It’s light. It’s portable. It provides a ritual in a time of transition and change. It’s an affordable creative practice as well. After testing many different creative programs and activities over the past 5 years, we keep coming back to Creative Age Journaling as a primary anchor program. However, for those who wish to learn new digital skills, we are also developing an online Creative Age Journaling program by adapting existing software platforms as well.
The Art of Collage and Mixed Media
The new online program series will be tested with older adult focus groups as part of the Direct-Message Research Project. The series will include livestream ZOOM sessions, online YouTube demonstrations with accessible slide show resources.
Direct Message Research Project
We’re proud to support and participate in the Direct-Message Research project – a collaborative community arts project based in Ontario and generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts (Digital Strategy Fund). It aims to make the arts more interactive and accessible for older adults through digital technology.
We are feeling hopeful the New Horizons Project Healthier Aging Through the Arts sponsored by Museum London and London Middlesex Community Housing will resume in October. We will develop, organize and deliver creative aging programs for senior residents in London and Middlesex County. A decision will be made by mid September. If there is another lockdown anticipated, the program will be postponed again, until the spring of 2022.
We’re celebrating Seniors Month in Ontario!
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Penny Wearne, Dorchester Coordinator (left)
Kathy Smith, London Coordinator (right)