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Elliot Lake seniors gather online, in-person, to discuss senior's issues – win prizes

The Golden Years Project aims to restore some quality of life for seniors isolated by pandemic
Resident's representatives Jim and Donna Preston (left), Bob Dunlop (centre) with DiversityCanada Foundation staff member Chris Elliott (right). DiversityCanada presented residents at four Elliot Lake retirement apartment buildings with supplies for coffee meetings where seniors can gather to discuss their issues. 

It's been just about two years since the COVID-19 pandemic came thundering into our lives, disrupting normal social activities.

Now seniors in Elliot Lake are gathering online and soon plan to get together as part of in-person groups to discuss their top-of-mind issues.

The Elliot Lake non-profit The DiversityCanada Foundation recently began hosting weekly online meetings open to anyone in the city 55 years and over.

DiversityCanada Foundation also provided residents in four Elliot Lake Retirement Living buildings with food and pantry supplies so they can set up in-person coffee meetings when public health restrictions are loosened.

Donna Preston, a resident's representative at Elliot Lake Retirement Living's Washington Crescent apartment buildings is concerned about health.

"Being isolated is not healthy for anybody," she said. "So it's important to have activities like these where people can come together and see their friends and neighbours and feel part of a community."

Her building received some of the supplies.

Activities held under the Golden Years Project, are designed to get seniors together to discuss issues ranging from joint bank account abuse to lower back pain, to ways to sign up for programs that help reduce their utility bills.

But they're also planning to put aside time for a little fun when participants will have the chance to win prizes such as fruit baskets, coffee gift baskets, beauty gift baskets, winter care packages, cooler bags and gift cards.

The Golden Years Project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program and is supported by several local businesses.

If you want to participate in online meetings go here to sign up and learn more.

The in-person meetings being planned will involve residents of the partnering facilities.

“It’s clear that for some time to come it’ll be prudent to keep in-person gatherings small to protect attendees and the wider community," said DiversityCanada Executive Director Celia Sankar. “Luckily, each of the four apartment buildings we’re teaming up with has its own meeting room and an activities committee that can facilitate smaller-scale gatherings.”

While those meeting rooms are currently closed, Sankar said the project is putting discussion resources and coffee meeting supplies in the hands of seniors now so they can be ready as restrictions are loosened.

Like everyone else, most Elliot Lake seniors are eager for an end to the social isolation brought by pandemic restrictions. However, the need to be cautious also remains paramount.

“Although we are in residential buildings, we have to follow all the public health rules,“ Jim Preston, a resident's representative at the Washington Crescent complex said. “Everyone who wants to participate in group activities has to first show proof of vaccination.”

Bob Dunlop, a residents representative at the Warsaw Place apartment complex which also got hosting supplies for coffee meetings, said the discussion groups are especially welcome at this time of year.

“Some seniors usually go away to warmer places during winter but had to cancel their plans due to COVID," he said.

Along with the meetings, some 500 local seniors receive twice-weekly emails containing links to recorded discussions with subject experts and other people on the topics that form the basis for the group online and in-person meetings.

The online gatherings are set to continue weekly up to the first week of March.

If you're not comfortable with computers you can call DiversityCanada at 705 848-6194 to get help.

They're also running a project to help seniors get more at ease on the internet.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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