By Alvin Tsang
The Churchill Seniors Centre is doing outreach this summer by calling past clients and would like the larger Kitchissippi community to know that they’ve always been here; they’ve been open for the majority of the pandemic; and it’s finally safe enough to come back.
Anita Findlay, program coordinator at the Churchill Seniors Centre (CSC), believes in a safe reopening and is happy to announce Aug. 3 as the launch date for some of the centre’s returning programs.
“There was so much laughter today coming from our fitness room,” Findlay said. “The laughter just fills your heart, and it’s that connection with people that we appreciate. Everybody is feeling the need to be connected again, and I’m hoping everybody will recognize that the Churchill Seniors Centre is here for them.”
The CSC is designated a hub within the City of Ottawa and has remained open to provide rehabilitation programs to adults over 50. It’s one of very few such hubs that does not operate out of a hospital, and its main use during the lockdowns was a weight and cardio room with equipment specific for people who have mobility issues — like the recumbent bike and the Nu-Step machine.
“It’s difficult to be told to stay home and simply go for a walk to stay fit,” Findlay said. “If you have a bad hip, bad knee or bad balance post-stroke, you can’t do that. So we’ve remained open to be able to offer something to our clients.”
As for the reopening, Aug. 3 is also the date other classes resume at the centre. There are 10 different fitness classes, a teddy bear club and an arts program that is aimed to return in late August.
The teddy bear club will run on Thursday mornings and will have a nominal fee of two dollars per class. It will be a small sewing circle for seniors to get together and socialize.
“We’re not limiting it to any group,” Findlay said. “If you don’t sew, that’s okay! If you knit instead, bring your knitting and get out of the four walls of your home. Come here to socialize with us and see some faces.”
Art programs are coming back. The centre will have an active group of people who paint and organize town halls to showcase the art. The hope is to offer artist-led workshops by the end of August.
“We’re doing what we call a ‘soft opening’ just because we recognize from the city’s perspective, they don’t want to open too quickly,” Findlay said. “That would be hard on everybody if we had to close again.”
The CSC’s reopening strategy is to start small in August and keep adding new classes and programs over the coming weeks and months.A full list and schedule of available programs can be found at join.ottawa.ca/seniors/facs/churchill
This article ran in the Retirement Living section of the August 2021 edition of Kitchissippi Times.