Friday, January 11, 2008


Report from a regional conference hosted by Seniors College of Prince Edward Island.
notes from: AUGUST 28 2007 - TUESDAY, 9 AM SESSION:

1) PEI Seniors Federation (Annie Boyle)

Seniors Federation (SF) was formed in 1970. Today, 37 clubs belong to the SF at a cost of $5 per member and individuals have also joined. There’s a funded executive director. The Active Living Centre at UPEI now has 386 members. Meetings, workshops etc focus on life after retirement There are Elder-abuse workshops, a provincially-funded peer-helping programme in which volunteers are trained to visit and support isolated seniors and an Atlantic Housing advocacy group. Individual clubs may offer courses on crafts etc. A 55-Alive driving course costs $10-$15 per person and is taken by as many as 20 people at a time.

This year, a Works Canada-funded facilitator, George Crawford, offered 9X3 hr. computer courses for 9 clubs with 136 participants. Clubs found class space in local libraries etc. Some computers came from government surplus and were left with clubs/ seniors Participants paid, at most, any cost incurred for the location.

2) Community Schools (Shirley Moore)

These began in Tignish, Kensington and Mount Stewart as a mid-sixties Rural Development initiative when PEI communities were suffering a severe downturn in farming and fishing with the loss of family farms and local schools. Typical early course topics were typing, knitting and sewing. Today there are around 34 locations and 100 courses on topics as diverse as rug-hooking, computer use, literacy, historical buildings, geneaology, Spanish and the violin. An initial provincial government grant of $20,000 annually rose to around $43,000, was cut by 53% in 2004 and has now been re-instated at $36,000. Liability costs range from $4,000 to $5,000 annually and there is a paid provincial co-ordinator. The organisation has survived with the help of the Credit Union Central.

For Shirley, the volunteer nature of the organisation is crucial for its success. No-one is paid except the co-ordinator. PEI is unique, and uniquely successful, with this approach. Last year, 700 volunteers were involved. Courses are widely accessible because the Community School (CS) brochure goes to 62,000 homes and students pay only $10-$20 for a ten-week course. Lunch is provided each night and many classes organise a final meal so there’s a social element. Student ages range from 16 upwards with many seniors participating. Special courses for seniors are offered in 10 senior homes across PEI, for example, in Charlottetown’s Geneva Villa.

GED courses are offered in collaboration with government and CS offers a home to other courses such as Defensive Driving. Old skills are kept alive and individual opportunities created. A CS course, for example, provided a basis for the very successful business of Cavendish Figurines.

3) Holland College (Angela Larter)

Holland College offers a 20% seniors’ discount for continuing education courses. At present, seniors participate in Adult and Community Education programmes and a Seniors Computer Camp (held monthly in Charlottetown, occasionally in Summerside). They are involved in the practicuum work of dental and practical nursing programmes.

In her research for the conference, Angela saw potential for a greater focus on seniors in health-related continuing education courses as well as those concerned with literacy and ESL, cooking and customer service. Full-time courses in safety, sports and leisure and a variety of trades may interest seniors. Peer-learning opportunities could be created. Seniors might tutor or teach in ESL programmes, share their perspectives in continuing education classes or use HC resources to teach other courses.

Olive Bryanton suggested that HC consider a project similar to that of UPEI. As part of their curriculum, nursing students go to the Seniors Active Living Centre for up to a week to develop a programme with the assistance of seniors.

4) Lifelong learning at UPEI (Kelly Duffy and Bruce Garrity)

The institute’s focus is on pay-as-you-go business courses in areas such as professional development courses in topics like conflict resolution and stress management. There is no discount for seniors.

It was suggested that ten places be offered free to non-profit organisations, also that the UPEI Centennial Scholarship funding be re-instated without any limitation on the number of credit courses taken by seniors.


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