Tag Archives: Virtual

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 (welland.ca)

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 recreation@welland.ca 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.

Niagara Parks To Host Virtual Black History Speaker Series

  • Three-part speaker series will focus on Black history and culture in Canada
  • Virtual events will be held in January, February and March, with full details and tickets available at niagaraparks.com/blackhistory

NIAGARA FALLS – Niagara Parks will host a three-part virtual speaker series exploring perspectives on Black history and culture in Canada, delivered by leading historians and commentators. The online events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month in January, February and March.

The three-part virtual series features an incredible line-up of speakers, including the return of acclaimed author Saladin Allah and renowned historian, Rochelle Bush, both of whom presented at Niagara Parks’ Black History Symposium last February. Joining them to kick-off the series on January 27th will be Order of Ontario recipient, Rosemary Sadlier.

The interactive online sessions will each focus on a unique topic related to Canadian Black History and Culture.

  • January 27: Rosemary Sadlier, Blacks in the Military
  • February 24: Saladin Allah, The Power of Cultural Competence
  • March 31: Rochelle Bush, Fugitive Freedom Seekers Escape to Niagara

Additional event details and tickets are available at niagaraparks.com/blackhistory. Tickets are $15 per event, with access to all three events available for $35. All sessions will begin at 7:00pm.

About Niagara Parks

Since its establishment in 1885, Niagara Parks has remained a self-financed agency of the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, entrusted to preserve and protect the land surrounding Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. Today, Niagara Parks boasts gardens, a horticulture school, recreation, golf courses, restaurants, heritage and historic sites, gift shops and, of course, Niagara Falls. In short, natural landscapes, history, family fun, hiking, culinary delights, attractions and adventure.

(Source: Niagara Parks news release)

Welland’s Central Fire Station Celebrates 100th Virtually

Central Fire Station (Supplied photo)

WELLAND — On Dec. 17, 1920, with the official opening of the Central Fire Station, firefighting and public safety in Welland rolled into the 20th Century.

A stylish and practical $43,851 fire hall, built on an easy-to-exit 45-degree angle at Hellems Avenue and Division Street, contained the latest firefighting features of the period.

For the hall’s centennial on Dec. 17, 2020, the Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI), which leases the closed fire hall from the city, had planned to hold an “at home”, a traditional fire department open house.

The Covid-19 emergency, however, made that impractical. It will be held when safe to do so during 2021.

Meanwhile, CSEI will mark the 100th birthday virtually on its website, http://www.centralfirehall.ca,  and on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/wellandcentralfirehall with stories about the fire station’s history.

 It also will welcome your memories of the Centennial Fire Station.

CSEI leases the closed fire station from the city and is raising funds to preserve it.

When it opened in 1920, Central Fire Station, designed by architect Walter La Chance, would hold a hook-and-ladder truck, hose and chemical truck, fire chief’s car and ambulance in its first-floor engine room. Horse-drawn equipment was fading from use.

Informally the new building became known as the central fire hall. It had a control board linked to alarm boxes throughout the city. An efficient hose cleaning system included an underground washing tunnel and 70-foot drying tower. The second floor contained eight sleeping rooms, exercise room and chief’s office. The third-floor was a meeting and recreation room. 

Two fire poles linked the floors to give firefighters quick access to the engine room.

 CSEI believes this 100-year-old fire station is the only one surviving in Canada intact with its original 1920’s equipment, furniture and firefighting artifacts.

An incorporated not-for-profit, CSEI is raising funds to restore and to open the hall as a self-supporting community hub. It will have a free public heritage display showing how Welland’s firefighters lived and worked from 1920’s to 2005.

“If we can’t do this,” said CSEI president Nora Reid, “the City will undoubtedly sell or lease the building to business interests and dispose of the collection losing the opportunity to preserve this unique intact piece of Canadian history and to honour the history of our first responders.”

Donations can be made through the website http://www.centralfirehall.ca .

(Source: Central Station Education Initiative news release)