Marking a milestone

Nancy
Nancy MacPhee
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East Prince Seniors Initiative gets ready to hold 100th session aimed at informing and helping area seniors

SUMMERSIDE — East Prince Seniors Initiative is getting ready to mark a major milestone.

East Prince Seniors Initiative’s executive director Gloria Schurman is looking forward to the non-profit organization’s 100th information session on Jan. 3. EPSI operates out of space at Summerside’s Credit Union Place and operates free information and sessions for area residents who are 50 and older.

The non-profit organization, which focuses on wellness, productivity and lifelong learning of areas seniors, will soon host its 100th information session.

EPSI has come a long way since its formation in 2010.

It has a comfortable home inside Summerside’s Credit Union Place and, weekly, sees dozens of seniors come through its doors, whether they’re dropping by looking for information about healthy eating and wellness, attending an information session or using a computer, for free, to browse the web.

It’s executive director Gloria Schurman, who co-ordinates programming for ESPI. She’s been with the organization since its move to Credit Union Place.

“ESPI’s kind of a different animal,” said Schurman. “We have a learning group and it is made up of Holland College and the Seniors College, community schools and some individual interested seniors… that sit around the table and work towards trying to create more opportunities to learn and train for seniors.”

In addition to information offered at its office on things such as provincial programs, healthy eating, exercise and even a guide to the golden years, ESPI organizes sessions twice a week on a wide range of topics.

The launch program, back in May 2010, featured Francois Caron with Recreation P.E.I. talking about the benefits of walking and moving.

Since, sessions have been all encompassing, from those on arthritis, choosing the right footwear for walking, starting a family tree, elder abuse, therapeutic touch and even navigating social media and learning to Skype.

All program facilitators volunteer their time, Schurman pointed out.

“They get to tell people about what they do and then we get the benefit of their expertise. That’s really a win-win,” she added. “The biggest interest areas, we find, are health, wellness and technology.”

ESPI is currently working with Parkview Seniors on opportunities for peer tutoring and computer training for seniors through its Learning Community Group.

“Their interest is, for their members who aren’t on a computer, to learn how to use it to access things like government programs,” said Schurman. “It’s almost getting to be a new literacy now.”

The most popular session to date was by Mike and Betty Buley entitled Around the World in 48 Days, chronicling the couple’s trip aboard the Queen Mary.

“It was packed.”

According to recent statistics, 23.6 per cent of Islanders are between the age of 45 and 59; 16 per cent are between 60 and 74; and 7.2 per cent are 75 and older.

With the Island’s population getting older, ensuring there are adequate programs and services for seniors, most who continue to be in the community in their retirement, is paramount, said Schurman.

“It connects them more with the community,” she added. “A lot of the seniors we see coming into Credit Union Place, they’re preaching to the converted. They’re volunteering and running half of the community.”

“I don’t know where we would be without seniors. We’re lucky to have them because, without them, there would be a lot of programs in jeopardy.”

ESPI has formed a committee to generate new ideas for programs and sessions and is looking for feedback from its users on what they want to see.

 “If somebody comes in with an idea, we’ll promote it. We’ll put in on our Facebook, put it on posters and tell everyone we talk to,” said Schurman. “We call ourselves the catalyst in a lot of cases.”

When it comes to that milestone session on Jan. 3, the topic has yet to be revealed.

But Schurman assured it would be something seniors will want to attend.

“We’ll have to do something special.”

 

nmacphee@journalpioneer.com

 

A FEW FACTS

-       Non-profit organization founded by Summerside Rotary Club to work with community partners to enhance lives of area seniors.

-       Seniors Access Centre offers free use of computers, an information board featuring coming events and programs and is staffed.

-       EPSI’s community education sessions started in May 2011.

-       Sessions Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and resume Jan. 3.

-       EPSI’s definition of a senior is anyone 50 and older.

-       Three areas of focus are on wellness, productivity and lifelong learning.

-       Past sessions included: dealing with chronic pain, winter fitness, basic first aid, fitness with geocaching, starting a family tree, reflexology, celiac disease.

-       99 sessions facilitated by a long-list of professionals held to date.

-       For more information, call 888-2174, visit ESPI Initiative on Facebook or check out eastprinceseniorsinitiative.blogspot.ca.

 

 

Organizations: Holland College, Seniors College, Credit Union Place Learning Community Group Summerside Rotary Club Access Centre

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