I would like to use the space in your paper to bring some hopefully helpful suggestions to the people who plan aspects of the life of a senior.
First of all, I would like to thank the Town of Fort Frances for allowing me to become a Senior Citizen twice. In Fort Frances when you turn 55 you can enjoy the benefits of the Senior Centre. After five years pass and you turn 60 then you get to be a Senior again at the Sportsplex. Is there someway that we can agree on the age a Fort Frances resident becomes a senior? Both the Senior Centre and the Sportsplex are run by the town. (I am over 60 so I am not looking for a deal from the Sportsplex) For the purpose of this letter I am going to assume that a senior in Fort Frances starts at 55.
After moving to town a year after I retired from full-time teaching, I have been able enjoy more volunteering and participating in many activities. There is a lot to do in Fort Frances if you are a senior! I have noticed a few areas where we could make life here a little better and more inclusive to seniors 55+!
- The Senior Centre could use a Co-op student to help them with programming during the day and computer help. Perhaps a student from the Fort Frances High School who might be thinking of studying Gerontology or college/university student already in a similar program could help out. The computer help from a student could come in the form of newsletters and schedules being sent out. My 80 year old father asked me to see if he could be put on the centre's newsletter list. I was quite surprised to learn that they do not have a website. The town's current website has a section for the Senior centre that has not be updated since 2015. (I have to admit that this website of the town's is not very user friendly.) A student or intern could have a corner of the centre with a computer/cell phone/tablet/Ipad for those that might what to ask a question or try something new. (I know the library has a great program but there is so much to learn and it would not take away from their services.)
- I also think that a Facebook page would be helpful for seniors because many in this age group use many forms of the media to keep up with is happening around town. I have also heard from some of my high school classmates that live out of town, who would be checking a FB page to encourage their parent(s) who still live here, to check out the new informational sessions or activities thus avoiding social isolation.
- I know quite a few people were upset that there was a name change from Sister Kennedy to the Senior Centre. Perhaps once a year we could have a Sister Kennedy Awareness Day or Celebration Day where those people that knew this wonderful woman could share stories and people like myself could learn more about the history of how the centre originated.
- Recently the centre put on an informational workshop presented by the OPP. I've heard wonderful things about the session and it was well attended. Events like this could also be presented in the evening so those seniors who still work during the day might be able to attend.
- I would like to end my letter with one more suggestion and this is directed to town council. Perhaps it is time to have a Senior Committee that works with concerns about senior life in Fort Frances and one that is not just focused on the Senior Centre. I feel a committee that looks at social isolation, inclusion and celebration would make life a little more enjoyable. This committee could also look at where the new funding money for seniors would be best spent!
I am aware that there is a Social Isolation program/study being run by a very capable woman, Andrea Avis. I know the program ideas and suggestions Andrea is organizing will benefit all seniors, however this is a contract position. We need some long term changes because some of us may be lucky to be here for another 30 or 40 years!