“At ElderCollege, we do that every day,” said Wendy Samaroden, curriculum chair of the Campbell River ElderCollege. “ElderCollege is an opportunity to stay engaged with the process of learning. It’s a great chance to meet, connect, learn and share experiences.”
ElderCollege was introduced at NIC’s Comox Valley campus in 1999 after Betty Emery and Elizabeth Smith learned about the concept of ElderCollege and approached NIC with their idea. The Campbell River and Port Alberni ElderColleges followed with membership bases that continue to grow.
“NIC supports lifelong learning and has provided us with a space to offer classes to seniors on topics they might be interested in,” said Samaroden.
ElderCollege is a self-funded program through NIC’s Continuing Education and Training division. Volunteers, who make up the organizing committees and instructors, run each program.
“Any member who wants to share their knowledge is welcome to propose a class,” said Samaroden. “We work with them to develop the curriculum and help them design the class. We support volunteer instructors as much as we can.”
Classes range from one-day workshops to multi-session classes, with the focus on sharing experiences and promoting discussion.
Interest in ElderCollege is growing, noted Samaroden. “We’re seeing more interest from younger seniors, aged 55 to 65,” said Samaroden. “We’re trying to offer more programming that is convenient for those who may be older but still working. The great thing about ElderCollege is that it’s driven by what the membership wants, so it can be responsive and adaptable.”
Annual ElderCollege membership is $10 + GST. It is open to anyone 50 or over in Campbell River and Port Alberni, 55 in the Comox Valley. ElderCollege is one of two options for more mature students. Seniors 55 and up can also enrol in Joy of Lifelong Learning courses, with more than 80 academic courses available at reduced rates.
For more information on ElderCollege or Joy of Lifelong Learning, visit www.nic.bc.ca/continuing-education.