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Tune in to adult education

Don Fennell   May-03-2018

A ukulele course is one of the typical adult education programs accessible in Richmond.

Photo courtesy City of Richmond


Learn to swim. Take taiko drumming lessons. Prepare and sample flavourful and healthy yogurt. Or stay fit with zumba.

From A to Z, it’s all possible in Richmond, where the learning opportunities are as numerous as one’s imagination.

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Take, for example, programs designed specifically for adults.

With Richmond able to boast of many modern recreation facilities, and programs that contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle, it’s not surprising local residents enjoy the longest life expectancy (85.7 years) in Canada.

“We have such a broad spectrum (of seniors), and it’s growing,” enthuses Melanie Burner, community facilities co-ordinator at Minoru Place Activity Centre. “Our oldest member is 105 and going strong.”

With the Minoru Centre for Active Living set to open later this year, Richmondites will have even more opportunities to remain on the go. The new multipurpose complex, now under construction in Minoru Park, will include an aquatic centre, seniors centre and other recreation and sports amenities. It will replace the outdated Minoru Aquatic Centre and Minoru Place Activity Centre as well as the former Minoru Pavilion.

The seniors centre will be located on two floors, with a lounge, a full-service cafe, a range of activity rooms. A 7,300-square-foot fitness centre will also be part of the facility.

Burner says the expanded space will help accommodate both current and future programs specifically for older adults. She says the programs range from visual arts to painting and targeted programs like the brain health series, which helps seniors understand how the brain changes as you age.

“We have such a big spectrum of what we think of a senior, so having a greater range of options (with expanded space at the new facility) for people is something we’re looking forward to,” she says.

Burner adds that the new Minoru Centre for Active Living will also allow new strategies to be realized, including more space to just sit and talk. She says studies have shown the importance of socializing, and that isolation can be worse than smoking.

David Ince, manager of community recreation services for the City of Richmond, says programming that reflects this type of thinking is increasing. Both the City Centre and Thompson community centres have dedicated space for simply socializing.

In the past, Ince says, programs were much more focused on a direct benefit. Today, the thinking is much broader.

“People are more open to exploring a new interest, while also continuing their activities instead of thinking there is a hard stop,” he says. “(Programming) has expanded to certainly be more about livability. When programmers sit down they’re thinking about the side benefits besides taking an exercise class. And people are asking for new and innovative things.”

Carol Lepine, community facilities co-ordinator at Thompson Community Centre, says bringing people together is at the core of what programming is all about. She says the wide range of opportunities, including volunteering, not only helps provides people learn new skills, but fosters a feeling of belonging.

“One important aspect is to also look at the benefits of recreation, and the outcome of the programs which is a vital way of connecting people,” she says. “Activating people through volunteering is a really great way to share, learn new skills, and feel a part of things.”

Many unique, and free, education opportunities for adults are offered through Richmond’s parks programs. Area co-ordinator Tricia Buemann notes that the city is working with Emily Carr University on a project around pollination, and having “a bit of an outdoor classroom in Terra Nova.”

“There’ll be a workshop series around that too,” she explains.

“The David Suzuki foundation started the Butterfly Rangers, and when our children are getting more involved I think it builds a momentum and the parents can get out and enjoy the outdoor activities with them,” adds Buemann.

City arts co-ordinator Camyar Chaichian says community groups are increasingly being recognized as partners. Eleven are currently housed at the Richmond Cultural Centre and run the gamut of arts offerings.

“Partly, we have to be sensitive that if we do a lot of classes are we competing with those groups we are actually housing?,” he asks. “So a lot of what we do is to complement what they do. And if we have more arts studios open that’s good. It means more opportunities for people.”

Chichian also noted the City of Richmond has invested heavily in events that recognize the family dynamic, and are well-received by the public. He said the events represent another form of programming.


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