In Charleswood we are fortunate to have an abundance of community groups such as children’s groups, community centres, service clubs, sports clubs, book clubs and art groups, to name a few. I recently celebrated my 20th anniversary of being the MLA for Charleswood and I am so appreciative of the commitment of these groups to our community. As a new MLA in 1998, I embraced my new role with great enthusiasm. This enthusiasm carries on as I walk into the Manitoba legislature to represent my community every day.
Setting up the Charleswood club
One of the first things I did as a new MLA was to bring seniors together in 1999 to celebrate International Year of the Older Persons, which was a UN resolution. The theme of the UN resolution was Towards a Society for All Ages. All over the world people were thinking about their communities and wondering if they really lived in a society that was engaging for all ages. For all our clubs and organizations, Charleswood at that time did not have any club specifically dedicated to meeting the needs of seniors. I set up a group of seniors and we planned a number of activities for seniors and created a newsletter.
These humble beginnings were the root of what has now morphed into the Charleswood 55 Plus Active Living Centre. The Charleswood 55 Plus Active Living Centre now boasts a membership of over 400. Their programming varies from yoga to movie matinees, badminton to high tea trips. I am amazed by this dynamic organization and how it has evolved to become a centerpiece of our community.
Good for mental health
Many studies have shown that joining clubs is good for your health. Generally speaking, people who are members of clubs can expect both mental health and physical health benefits. Having been a nurse, I know the importance of ensuring you take care of yourself. It is important for seniors to care for their mental and physical well-being, something senior centres play a role in.
The University of Manitoba has studied the topic of senior centres in depth. According to one of the U of M Centre on Aging publications, “Senior centres are designed to promote health and provide a community focal point on aging by enabling older adults to come together for services and activities that enhance their dignity, support their independence and encourage their involvement in and with the community.” (https://www.gov.mb.ca/seniors/publications/docs/senior_centre_report.pdf)
The Charleswood 55+ Active Living Centre is an amazing place for members of our community to gather, enjoy programming and be involved in the community.
Food to fitness to just getting together
To get an idea of the wonderful programming, just look at what is coming up for the summer session. There are events held within the centre, events that take place in outside locations, and fitness activities that happen both within and outside of the centre. Hosted at the centre there are events surrounding food. Members can come to the centre with their best dishes for a potluck or enjoy an Olive Garden style lunch with Louise. What better way to bond than over a delicious meal?
Other engaging activities include teaching members how to arrange flowers, a great lesson with the added benefit of being able to take your arrangement home; movie matinees, an entertaining way to spend the afternoon for the low cost of a toonie; meditation, the perfect way to learn how to unwind and clear your thoughts; and jam sessions to showcase your musical talent. There are book clubs and knitting groups. There is also a men’s group where men can get together and work on hobbies, talk and enjoy one another’s company.
The centre organizes outgoing trips to restaurants for the Lunch of the Month; trips to the casino for anyone interested in taking a gamble; and, for a special occasion like the Royal Wedding between Meghan Markel and Prince Harry, members can watch the ceremony while enjoying a high tea. The fitness activities offered at the centre are extensive. There are different levels of yoga, barre fitness, weight training, and Zumba. There’s bocce ball, carpet bowling and urban polling for those who want to get outside and enjoy the weather while getting in some exercise.
The Charleswood 55 Plus Active Living Centre also organizes fitness activities for members to participate in outside of the centre like pickle ball at the Westdale Community Centre, and Hall Walking in the Charleswood United Church. There is something for everyone at the centre!
The Charleswood 55+ Active Living Centre is a clear example of Charleswood’s community spirit. It is a hub of community involvement where neighbours come together and make memories. This centre has grown and evolved so much over the years and I am honoured to have been a part of its humble beginnings.
By: Hon. Myrna Driedger who is MLA for Charleswood and Speaker of the legislative assembly.