Good Neighbour Active Living Centre (GNALC) is hosting an open house to encourage senior citizens to stay active, socialize and connect to the community.

GNALC is Manitoba's most prominent senior centre and the organization has realized that the pandemic has affected everyone, but the elderly have been affected in ways that other age groups may not have experienced.

"Social isolation is already an issue for seniors as they age or their health changes or family moves away," says Susan Sader, Executive Director at GNALC. "It's time for people to start getting out a bit and having some fun. We know that social isolation affects people with their mental health, but also their physical health. They may become depressed, anxious, and maybe not look after themselves like they normally did, so we know that it's a big issue and Good Neighbours is definitely about bringing people together and making some friends."

Drums Alive, a fitness program at Good Neighbours Active Living Centre

GNALC offers more than 60 programs a month and they are all taught by qualified and knowledgable instructors. Beginning today, until August 19, this Friday, the centre is hosting an open house for anyone 55 years or older.

"It's just a good week for people to come out and check out the different programs that we offer. They are all free for the can try as many as you like during that week."

Some programs that GNALC offers include fitness classes, art programs, campfire guitar, handbells, recorder, and choir. Visitors can also show up for a free tour of the building, get a quick glimpse of the programs and receive a newsletter.

Membership fees are $35 a year, and if someone is struggling financially, GNALC offers alternative options.

"If someone is in a financial situation where they can't afford that, they can come and talk to one of the staff and we would waive the fee so that they could still participate. We do have a registration week which starts August 22 and the programs carry what they cost. Our drop-in programs are usually just a toonie, so that's like our card playing groups, we do mahjong, we have pickleball three times a week and then the other classes."

Sader also mentions that programs with more specialized instructors would cost between $48-$70 for an eight-week session.

Guitar instructor teaches to 3 elderly people

An elderly woman named Edith participated in Monday's campfire guitar program.

"I wanted to try learning the guitar now that I'm retired. I have the time and energy so I wanted to try something new. I like being able to play Happy Birthday and Christmas carols, and when I saw 'campfire' in the title, I thought about Peter, Paul and Mary [an American folk group], those kinds of sitting around the campfire songs."

Sader encourages the public to care for the elderly. By 2036, seniors are expected to make up between 23-25 per cent of the total Canadian population according to Canadian government statistics.

"Certainly places like Good Neighbours are part of that [ways of caring for seniors]. Encouraging your parent or grandparent to go out and try some of these kinds of things where they can't stay connected to people, definitely checking in with their parent or grandparent regularly just to make sure they have what they need.

For more information, visit the GNALC website.