Long live lifelong learning …
Vibrant group’s meetings keep brain and body active
C algarians Bob and Arlene Stamp take lifelong learning to heart. “You’ve got to keep your brain active,” says Bob, 76, a retired professor in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Education.
“And your body,” adds Arlene, 75, a retired visual artist.
The Stamps are two of the five originators of the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners, a member-led not-for-profit organization going into its third year in September.
It was a natural for the Stamps, parents of two grown children and grandparents of five, to become involved in founding a lifelong learning group.
“We’ve both been educators all our lives,” Arlene says. The Calgary couple was also part of the founding group of the Saturday School, an alternative arts-centred school, in 1972.
In retirement, the Stamps were first introduced to a lifelong learning group (the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of California — Santa Cruz) six years ago in California, where they go every winter.
“To be able to connect with a community of seniors, with vibrant programming going on, was a godsend for us,” Arlene says.
When they returned home, they thought that Calgary must have a lot of older adults looking for ways to connect with others in the same stage of life in a vital and interesting way. They joined up with Don Smith, a University of Calgary professor, and Carol Gerein and Barbara Grant, to establish the association in 2010. The association, which launched its first programming in the fall of 2011, now has 330 members, ranging in age from 45 to 60-plus.
“We have attracted so many interesting people,” Arlene says. “You can imagine there are a lot of people retiring in their early 60s. They’ve got all kinds of energy and are at the top of their form, and they want something interesting to do.
“One of the things I really ap- preciate about a group like this is that all my life I was involved with people who were in the same discipline, which is true for many working adults. Now, I’m meeting people from a whole range of disciplines and backgrounds.”
Programming is determined by the group’s members, and spans a range of interests, from physical activities to history, arts and culture.
In addition, there is a lecture series and a monthly event where the entire group comes together for socializing, learning about the various interest groups, and a formal program with a speaker. Annual membership is $50 per person.
“Innovative and affordable lifelong learning opportunities are what we’re all about,” says association president Don Smith, an author of six books on Canadian history.