College schools seniors on staying young
It’s never too late to teach old dogs new tricks.
That’s pretty much the premise that fuels the Community Centred College for the Retired, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a special event on April 5 at the Alan Emmott Centre in Burnaby where it’s occupied the basement for 10 of those years.
Run entirely by volunteers, including 50 instructors, the college teaches new skills and pastimes to seniors 55 years old and over. And while there are no exams, or even grades given out, the college’s programs do follow a school-year calendar with three semesters and time off through the summer.
Enrolling for programs at the college is all about keeping the mind active and making connections, explains its president Rosemary Cooke.
“We have a fun, social atmosphere. There’s no pressure,” she says. “Our motto is learn for fun and teach for pleasure.”
In fact, attending the college is so much fun, lasting friendships are easily forged, says Sid Cumbers, 86, a volunteer instructor for 25 years.
“I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been taken to lunch by students who’ve become friends. It’s an absolute delight.”
Over the years the college has offered a myriad of programs and workshops depending on the interests of students and the availability of instructors. They’ve ranged from unique sessions in clowning and pruning (albeit not at the same time) to languages, music, quilting, bridge and genealogy.
Programs teaching computer skills are amongst the most popular, says Cooke.
But that creates challenges for the college, keeping up with technology and finding instructors able to teach it.
“The challenge is everyone is at different levels, there’s a terrific overlap,” says Helen Vegh, who started at the college as a student and now teaches an introductory course in the Windows operating system.
The ubiquity of iPhones and iPads has also necessitated new courses familiarizing seniors with those devices.
Being able to stay current with the latest and greatest is part of the fun, says Peter Tamilin, who’s part of the anniversary party’s organizing committee.
“You become a boy again. If you keep your brain active, you’re not going to age.”
• To learn more about the college, go to its website www.cccrburnaby.org
The 40th anniversary celebration takes place Friday, April 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Alan Emmott Centre, 6650 Southoaks Cr. Call 604-517-8732 to RSVP.