Today Bishopstown Senior Social Centre is host to up to 300 older people per week who participate in a wide range of activities. These activities run from Monday to Thursday (inclusive). Different activities and programmes are provided each day, although the ‘Computers for the Petrified’ programme, offering older people the opportunity to learn about and become comfortable with using computers and information technology, runs each day.
From Monday to Thursday the ‘Computers for the Petrified’ programme provides computer tuition in small groups (6 people at a time) and hundreds of older people in the community are now computer literate and are in regular contact with family and friends at home and abroad through email and Skype. Access to the Internet has also opened up new possibilities in people’s lives from the freedom to book holidays from home, to maintaining interests through the Internet, to finding information and support through online networks and information hubs. The learning atmosphere in the computer training room is warm and supportive and everyone is able to participate and learn at a pace that is right for them. Michael O’Connor, the very experienced tutor, ensures that fun and learning go hand in hand. For a generation that often had very negative educational experiences when they were young this opportunity brings a late found confidence in their own abilities and an awareness that learning can be an enjoyable and fruitful experience.
Monday afternoons are very full and lively in the social centre. The ‘Go For Life’ group take over the lounge and, with the able guidance of their tutor Noel Carey, work their way through a fitness routine. What can be witnessed here is not the groans of push-ups and sit-ups but rather peals of laughter that accompany gentle stretches and easy movements that strengthen and maintain flexibility. These routines are developed in a way that includes everyone, from those who are very physically active to those who are more constrained. In the kitchen the card players occupy two tables and maintain and build friendships through the medium of games of ‘45’. This involvement supports older people’s mental agility as well as fostering great friendships and social connection.
While on Thursday afternoon the lovely Margo Lyons brings with her great flair and experience with her exercise and dance troupe
The centre has gone from strength to strength and I know will continue into the future