Social connection brings Seniors back to the classroom

Wesley School for Seniors was one of the first of Wesley Mission’s services to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A dynamic and friendly learning environment for people over 55, the dedicated students felt torn between doing what they love and concerns about the virus. Because of public health orders at the time, in-person classes were closed. Learning soon began online, including some of the popular courses like dance.

Restarting some of the classes in a socially distanced format in the last few months was met with considerable joy from students.

“We welcomed people back for term one in February, and many of our students have returned”, says Program Coordinator Jeannie Mathews.

“Now that restrictions are easing, we can reintroduce more classes, and we’re encouraging people to reconnect with their community and try something new when term two starts later in April.”

There is a solid body of evidence internationally that attests to the benefits of lifelong learning, with studies showing that the benefits are more significant for vulnerable groups.

The general public has become more familiar with the World Health Organisation (WHO) from the official declaration of pandemic status and subsequent COVID-19 response. But the WHO has a lot to say about the importance of active ageing, having released its seminal policy framework on the topic nearly 20 years ago, advocating that mental health and social connections are as essential in defining health as physical considerations are.

“Many people have lost their sources of meaningful connection”, says Wesley Mission CEO Rev Stu Cameron.

“After being isolated, it can feel like a real effort to get out and about again. But many of our students describe a sense of ‘feeling alive’ after their first class, often saying so with a huge smile. There’s no substitute for being together and pursuing a passion.”

As NSW celebrates Seniors Festival, Wesley Mission is inviting people to take a trial class from Monday 19 to Friday 24 April 2021. Some of the subjects available include watercolour painting, tablets and smartphones, belly dancing, square dancing, table tennis, psychology, ukulele and a large selection of languages.

Wesley School for Seniors offers around 90 different courses that cater for beginners through to advanced. The classes are held in the Wesley Centre on Pitt St in Sydney’s CBD, Alan Walker Village in Carlingford and at Frank Vickery Village in Sylvania. The school will also continue to deliver online classes for some subjects.

Click here to view the course catalogue

To book a trial class or to enrol, please call (02) 9263 5416 or email schoolforseniors@wesleymission.org.au


Media enquiries and interviews: Amanda Bailey 0429 484 632 or amanda.bailey@wesleymission.org.au

Sources:

WHO Active Ageing: A Policy Framework https://www.who.int/ageing/publications/active_ageing/en/

Lifelong learning in active ageing discourse: https:/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5848758/

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