Virtual Seniors’ Centre Offers Mix Of Diverse Programming

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – Kudos to the City of Welland and staffer Paul Orlando for offering a Seniors’ Centre Without Walls (SCWW) program over the next few weeks. In a short sentence: It’s amazing!

As the media release explains: “The SCWW program will provide a dependable, supportive group and learning centre by connecting seniors with a variety of essential programs and activities from the comfort of their home.”  

I’ve previewed what’s on tap during the month of April. I’m impressed by the diversity. Consider the following examples:

Memoir & Movement with Sara Porter – Come explore your body of stories. Be guided through movement exercises, creative writing, voicework, poetry, drawing, singing, dancing and discussion. Have fun and be engaged

60s & ‘70s Music Trivia and Name That Tune – Join a fun, interactive activity and some lively conversation.

Transportation Services & Grocery Delivery – Learn how Community Support Services of Niagara provides rides for medical appointments, banking, shopping and also a no-charge grocery pickup and delivery service. 

The natural tendency is to assume these are in-person activities requiring attendance in a classroom, gym area or other public space. But they are not. The interaction takes place over the telephone from the participant’s home! Don’t dismiss this with a “Haven’t we been cooped up long enough because of the pandemic?” reaction. In my view, there’s much to be gained from signing on and taking part in the conversation.

As for format, there’s nothing intimidating about it, in fact, it is very welcoming, said Orlando, the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls activity leader/instructor. 

“It’s completely telephone based.  There’s no technology aspect to it at all,”  he added.

The outreach originated in Ottawa a couple of years ago through a program called Good Companions. Here in Niagara, it started in St. Catharines in January and in Welland, it had its start March 22. Orlando described it as a mix of table talk activities, “all conversation driven.”


More examples:

Coffee, Tea & Conversation with EAPO – Share your voice and thoughts as you engage with Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario in interactive, supportive conversations about healthy relationships and communication. Join us to be a part of making your community a stronger place for all seniors.

Creative Community Chat with Holly Treddenick – A conversation series about Welland’s history and your favourite sites, experiences and locations from around the city. You are welcome to join, chat and share your stories and memories.

Orlando was genuinely enthusiastic about the Creative Community Chat program.

He said participating in it is a great way of learning and understanding “the history of your community.”

He said the “ultimate goal” of every activity is to give people who want to talk the opportunity and ability to share their thoughts.

Programs are scheduled Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The entire calendar for the month of April is found at: Wellness Online Seniors’ Centre Without Walls (

All the instructions one needs to know are also available on the site.

I asked Orlando why people should get involved in the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls initiative.

“Why not?” was his response. “It’s something new…. I’m an advocate of change, of trying something new.”

One thing that must be stressed: participation is not limited to the seniors demographic, despite the initiative’s name. Anyone can take part. 

Explained Orlando: “This program is named Seniors’ Centre Without Walls (SCWW) in Welland and all other municipalities offering it because it originated from a partnership between the Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) and The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre in Ottawa, with funding support from the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility. Rebranding the name was not a possibility. Despite the word ‘seniors’ being featured in the title, registration is open to all individuals, regardless of age, and all are welcome to sign up for programming.”


Last two examples:

Conversations with MYAC: Pandemic Stories – Join the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council for some laid back, casual conversations as we swap stories from the pandemic.

James Powell Presents Colonel Joe Boyle – The Historical Society of Ottawa highlights Colonel Joe Boyle, an unsung Canadian hero whose thrilling real life adventures make James Bond look like a minor leaguer.

Enticed? You should be. To register, call the Welland Community Wellness Complex at 905-735-1700 ext. 4000 or email and provide your name and phone number and all activities you wish to join. All programs are free.

Once registered, follow these steps to connect with your activity:

  1.  Dial 1-866-279-1594
  2.  Enter Participant Code 567987
  3.  Record your name

A Provincial Seniors Community Grant of $20,650 to the city’s Recreation and Culture Division helped make the program possible.

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