Prairie Post (West Edition)

Raymond hosted Living Well, Living Rural Seniors’ Conference


As buses pulled into Raymond and the high school gym filled with seniors, a festival-like atmosphere swept through the building, as seniors reveled in the fact they were able to gather again.

After more than two years of isolation, the Living Well, Living Rural Seniors’ Conference brought celebratio­n, fun and excitement back to the lives of seniors across rural southern Alberta. Hosted by Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and the Raymond and District Senior’s Club on Oct. 15, the event welcomed 120 seniors for a day of reconnecti­ng and celebratio­n.

Seniors from all over the FCSS region attended, including those from the County of Lethbridge, the County of Warner, and the M.D. of Taber. For seniors who would have otherwise been unable to attend the conference, FCSS provided free transporta­tion to and from the event.

The itinerary for the day was planned by the Raymond and District Seniors’ Club, and included a keynote address from John Carstairs, which focused on the ways in which seniors have adapted to change throughout their lives. For example, he highlighte­d the astounding fact that the modern smartphone has more power than the computers that NASA used to send astronauts into space in the 1960s.

Seniors also had the opportunit­y to take in an incredible performanc­e from Ontariobas­ed entertaine­r Bob Cates – Comedy in Motion.

“I think the seniors really enjoyed the entertaine­r we had in the afternoon,” said Cindy Lauwen, Volunteer Services Coordinato­r for FCSS, who added Cates brought the crowd out of their seats with his unique performanc­e that included stand-up comedy, juggling, unicycling, and audience interactio­n.

At one point, Cates even balanced one of the metal chairs on his nose!

The conference also featured 18 informatio­n and resource booths from local organizati­ons that serve seniors. Conference attendees perused and obtained valuable informatio­n that aimed to improve their health and wellbeing. The conference also included several fun options like a Polaroid photo booth and harvest-themed decoration­s.

“We wanted to make sure the event was fun and special,” said Renee White, Seniors Services Coordinato­r for FCSS. “After two long years of isolation, we wanted the day to be a celebratio­n where seniors could reconnect with one another.”

For FCSS, the conference represente­d an important opportunit­y to bring seniors together for an event full of fun and valuable informatio­n.

“To be able to put on something like this was amazing. We saw the biggest smiles from the seniors, especially during our entertaine­r’s performanc­e,” said White. “It was really great to see. It was almost like a day of homecoming – coming home to socialize again and learn from one another.”

The Living Well, Living Rural Seniors’ Conference was funded by the Government of Canada through the New Horizons for Senior’s grants program. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, FCSS would host a seniors’ celebratio­n in the spring and a conference in the fall, at rotating locations as local seniors would take the lead on planning.

FCSS expects to host another conference next year.

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