By Hannah King
Our changing – and aging – demographic is a popular topic these days.
Statistics and reports are published daily and we are increasingly aware that this shift is going to affect our community.
One of the obvious impacts is going to be an increased demand for recreation program services.
Fortunately in Nanaimo, we are ready to meet that demand as parks, recreation and culture and our partners, the Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors, have been delivering recreation services for seniors nearly 50 years.
Earlier this week we held the annual volunteer appreciation lunch for those who assist with our seniors’ programs. Some volunteers were recognized for serving this community for more than 15 years. In fact, one lady has been volunteering with the seniors’ programs in one capacity or another for 30 years.
The volunteers do everything from welcoming new members, setting up for special events, sharing their passion for their hobby by leading courses and programs, helping prepare tax returns, serving on the Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors’ board and much more.
When Bowen Park Complex first opened in 1967, most of the programs offered were geared for seniors and the Bowen Seniors committee was formed. As it does today, the group raised funds for equipment and facility upgrades, as well as acted as a liaison between the community and the department.
Over time the committee’s name changed to Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors to reflect the fact that programs and services for seniors are offered throughout the city at all of the recreation facilities, not just at Bowen Park.
Today the membership of the Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors group sits at about 1,500.
Working in public recreation, it’s hard to deny the benefits of nurturing an active, aging population within a community.
As a demographic, they are a fun group to program for, as they can – and do – tell you what they like and what they don’t. They represent a huge resource of expertise, passion and energy and are available and willing to support each other and the community at large.
Recent examples of this generosity of time and energy are the donation of the hydrorider at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, and the Wellness Park equipment at Oliver Woods Community Park.
There will, of course, be some impacts that challenge our community as this shift continues, but at least we will have some experienced, talented and active community members to guide us through it.
Hannah King is a marketing and communication specialist with Nanaimo parks, recreation and culture.