Sioux Area Seniors Activity Centre gradually reopening
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
After months of remaining closed due to the pandemic, the Sioux Area Seniors Activity Centre (SASAC) gently began reopening its services on November 2. SASAC’s executive team shared with The Bulletin, “We decided to reopen as we had members who were very isolated because of COVID, and the only human contact they had was having coffee at the centre.”
The Activity Centre has been a part of Sioux Lookout’s community since 1984, aiming to provide a safe place for seniors to get together, socialize and partake in various activities. Due to the pandemic, the Activity Centre has restructured their activities and services to ensure safe socializing. “It took us months to get ready to open, starting with a deep clean of the inside, Plexiglas partitions were made for the larger tables.”
SASAC added, “Tables were rearranged so members sit six feet apart. Safety supplies were ordered. Under the guidance of the NWHU’s (Northwestern Health Unit) health inspector and literature and the COVID line, we developed a new cleaning protocol, and scaled back from six days a week to three mornings. We have screeners at the door and record all names coming and going. We also developed a mask protocol.” SASAC has also limited the number of members visiting the centre.
According to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Awareness Resources on the Government of Canada’s website, while the disease can make anyone sick, some people may be at a greater risk of contracting the virus due to their occupational, social, economic and other health and life circumstances. Older adults, especially over 60 years of age fall under the segment of the most vulnerable population who are at a risk of more severe disease or outcomes.
SASAC shared that the Activity Centre not only encourages healthy living through exercise and making new friends, it also “Is a place where we can discuss and lobby for issues important to seniors – long-term care beds, street safety, fall prevention etc. It is a place where we can educate by bringing in guest speakers on wills, POA (Power of Attorney) etc.” SASAC explained that the change of activities is based on the availability of instructors and space. With the current COVID-19 regulations, the centre is unable to conduct meetings with guest speakers at the centre or conduct annual activities such as summer picnics and a New Year’s Eve party.
“We are trying to provide members with a range of social, wellness and fun activities,” SASAC added. They shared that currently the Tai Chi program on Zoom has gained a lot of popularity, with strength and yoga exercise classes running at full capacity. The centre is looking forward to offering more exciting programs and activities such as a painting class, ski clinic for first-time skiers, woodworking program (build a bird house), and others.
The SASAC executive team mentioned that local participation at their morning coffee sessions is smaller than usual at the moment, but the members at present, enjoy the safe conversation areas. Anyone over the age of 50 can become a member by contacting Anne Saltel at [email protected] or text/call 807-737-6036. “The Seniors Activity Centre is a great place to meet new friends or renew friendships with old acquaintances, learn new skills OR help others to learn new hobbies or pastimes. The Centre is a great place for quiet social times, the activities and functions are a great way to enjoy the golden years. You can be as involved as you wish with any activity/project. We are a “NO” pressure group. Every member’s voice and input counts to ensure everyone’s interest is deemed important. If possible, we try to include these in our programs,” SASAC concluded.