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Living the good life with Active 55+ where there's so much to do

Regardless of fitness level, ability or other barriers, everyone who is 55 and over can find something fun to do at the city's active living centres, says manager of seniors services

The Bay Street Active Living Centre is 'bursting at the seams' but that's a problem the city's Manager of Senior Services, Jen Amadio, doesn't really mind having.

The centre, located at 619 Bay Street, near the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre, is one of the two homes to the city's Active 55+ Program. The other is the Northern Community Centre at 556 Goulais Avenue, near Korah Collegiate.

Both centres are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday with some evening and weekend programming available.

It's bursting at the seams because there are so many things to do and so many people who want to do them.

Amadio is on a mission to get as many people as possible aged 55 and over out to enjoy a variety of activities and she's very passionate about inclusiveness.

"We have a variety of activities, all of which can be modified so people of all ages, abilities and experience levels can participate and have fun," she said.

Her background is in health promotion and she spent ten years teaching physical education. She's translated that experience into a drive to create inclusive programming for people over 55 and to involve community partners, volunteers and service groups. 

Walk-ins are welcome at both centres and personal tours are available. 

The centres launched their spring/summer program schedule on Wednesday, bringing people out to register in person and online for all their favourite activities.

"We usually have a lineup at the door when we open," Amadio said. "Everyone is eager to sign up and see their friends again."

This year, the lineup was less than impressive as a snowstorm kept people in their cars until the doors opened. It's not too late to register, though. It continues as long as the programs run and participants can register in person at the centres or online.

Many of the activities are free and prices for the others range from $8 for Learn to Play Pickleball, running from April 4 to 25, to $80 for Active 55+ Acrylic Painting - Landscape, running from May 16 to June 6.

The free activities include washer toss, birdwatching, croquet and indoor pickelball as well as many others.

"We try to keep the activities accessible, affordable and interesting," Amadio said. "If there's something we don't have that people are interested in, all they have to do is tell us and we'll do our best to get it here."

The centre on Bay Street also offers snooker tables, regular and special events such as barbecue lunches, cards, crafts and bingo. It was recently updated with a kitchen remodel and is fully accessible. It even offers bingo for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Some of the programming offered through the centres is offered by, in partnership with or with funding from other agencies such as the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), Older Adult Centres' Association of Ontario (OACAO) and the Hearing Society of Canada. 

One such program, offered at the Northern Community Centre, is Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together (SMART). It's a gentle fitness program sponsored by VON aimed at helping older adults with mobility challenges stay active and maintain their independence.

To learn more about the programs and services offered by Active 55+, call or visit the centres. They can meet with people who aren't sure what program or service is right with them and discuss their needs and interests to find the best activities for them.

The Bay Street Active Living Centre is at 619 Bay Street and the phone number is 705-254-6474.

The Northern Community Centre is at 556 Goulais Avenue and the phone number is 705-759-5377.

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Carol Martin

About the Author: Carol Martin

Carol has over 20-years experience in journalism, was raised in Sault Ste. Marie, and has also lived and worked in Constance Lake First Nation, Sudbury, and Kingston before returning to her hometown to join the SooToday team in 2004.
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