Remember back in February of 2020 when we still hugged? Good times. We also attended events and stuff. Those were the days. 2020 ushered in a reality that morphed from soaking in hand sanitizer to mask mandates.
The COVID-19 global pandemic, still underway in 2021, called us all to action. The action we were called to do would cast a challenge for all citizens ~ Shelter in Place ~ Hold fast ~ Stop what you are doing. Life as you know is about to change.
And change it did. In January and February 2020, many of us were watching the daily media briefings through the W.H.O. (World Health Organization) and Canada’s Federal government.
The Federal Government, Provincial governments, Municipal governments, and Townships were having to move with intention and decisiveness to support unprecedented public health measures. As the public health emergency escalated into March, 2020, Canadians were coming to terms with the clear and present danger of COVID-19.
Sheltering in place, hunkering down, created the challenge of a lifetime. How in the blue blazes do we support and connect with each other through a pandemic? Counted among any community’s most important citizens, are its seniors. The 55 plus crowd.
The work of supporting each other has (perhaps) never seemed so daunting and urgent. Supporting someone by staying away from them, especially if they are a senior, runs polar-opposite to what our values compel us to do.
Many organizations that support seniors across the country have embraced technology. The Digital Platform as an outreach tool has been pressed into duty like never before. ‘Zoom’ has become an actual ‘household’ term. Even the word ‘household’ has taken on a modified meaning.
Seniors who have maintained an active lifestyle through belonging to groups, organizations and clubs, faith communities, active volunteering and more, have adapted and implemented new strategies to maintain general health and well-being in the age of COVID. Technology has certainly helped seniors stay connected, although not every senior has access to adequate internet infrastructure.
Statistics are showing that Internet access rates among Canadian seniors grew from 32.2% in 2007 to 68.2% in 2016. The 2016 ‘Canadians at Work and Home’ survey revealed that older Canadians are making large inroads into the digital world. The survey further revealed that internet use among seniors increased markedly from 2013 to 2016.
Rates of Internet use differ across age groups within the senior population, with about 81% use among seniors aged 65 to 69, compared with 74% among those aged 70 to 74, 64% among those aged 75 to 79, and 49% among those aged 80 or older. These statistics were revealed in a study published Jul. 10, 2019 ‘Evolving Internet Use Among Canadian Seniors’. Based on data from the ‘General Social Survey’, the study showed that the rate of seniors using the Internet increased from 32% in 2007 to 68% in 2016. However, as the Internet has become a vital utility on par with the telephone, that rate is considered low compared with the 97% rate of Internet usage among Canadians, and a potential source of social exclusion.
— Zoom (@zoom_us) January 15, 2021
Zoom and (Facebook) Face-time have become part of our popular lexicon. Seniors are continuing to embrace technology like never before. So too, have a significant number of Sault citizens who make up the 55+ crowd. The City of Sault Ste. Marie Seniors Services team have embraced the digital platform as a vehicle to stay ‘plugged in’ with Sault seniors.
Virtual programming, zoom links, lecture links, special event links, healthy living participation links and diverse programming links have filled the calendar of events via the Sault Seniors Services. The 55+ crowd can access programming by telephone and video conference with Rick Borean, Supervisor, Senior Services and Senior Services’ two Recreation Programming Facilitators, Vicky Taylor and Rita O’Neil.
The city’s two senior centres – the Bay Street Active Living Centre located at 619 Bay Street and the Northern Community Centre – Seniors 55+ at 556 Goulais Avenue have been physically closed since March. But there’s plenty going on. The work of Sault Seniors Services continues.
Superior Media spoke with Rick, Vicky and Rita recently from our studio via Zoom. Watch the video to hear all about the learning curve they went through as a team ~ the outreach that is happening on a daily basis ~ the plethora of programming available through internet links and telephones.
The following list is a portion of events and programmes available through the City of Sault Ste Marie Seniors Services in February. The City’s 2 Seniors Centres are re-opening on March 1, 2021
- Meditation–Morning Meditation: (Katie Rutledge)
- Gratitude from Chaos Talk (Bonnie Baranski)
- Mindfulness for the Daily Life (Ann O’Connor)
- Zumba: (IldikoHorvath)
- Laughter Yoga (Allyne Leonard)
- Dynamic Joints: (Ainsley Glassford)
- Better Bones:(Ainsley Glassford)
- Stretching & Strengthening: (Lan Gao)
- Pilates on a Chair: (Lan Gao)
- Low Impact Dance Fitness: (Lan Gao)
- Chair Fitness: (Lan Gao)
- Low Impact Cardio Workout: (Lan Gao)
- Gentle Yoga: (Shirling Kao)
Arts and Crafts
- Needlecraft Chat Group
- Open Painting Ainsley Glassford
- Loom Knitting Demonstration: (Rick Wark)
- Calligraphy Demonstration (Lan Gao)
- Exercise for Healthy Bones Talk (Osteoporosis Canada staff)
- Learn How Stress Effects Your Body & Health Talk (Allyne Leonard)Vegetarian Cooking Made Easy (Ainsley Glassford
- Cooking with Karen: (Karen Gallivan)
- Biscoti 101: (Rick Borean
- Chinese Cooking Demonstration (Lan Gao)
- Chinese Cooking Demonstration (Lan Gao)
- Recipe Club:(Mary Piraino
Novel Book Club: This group of avid readers meets monthly. February’s book: “The Secrets of Midwives” -S.Hepworth
- Savvy Book Chat:(Jennifer Misener)
- Movie on Zoom with Friends: “When Harry met Sally”
- Vision Board (Vicky & Rita)
- Declutter and Organize Your Closets:(Katie Rutledge)
Attractions Ontario have created Virtual Tours and Online Collections for a person to enjoy in the comfort of their own home. From 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours to Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre to Niagara Historical Society & Museum there are really great videos and photographs to check out.
The resilience of the human spirit will continue to propel citizens forward through the pandemic. Seniors are rising to the challenge and serve as sources of inspiration for us all.
For a complete list and link to the the City of Sault Senior Services calendar, go here