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Lunchbox Theatre and United Active Living have signed a partnership that will bring special talks and a full production, complete with sets and costumes into United’s Fish Creek community.

“We have many successful partnerships that promotes United’s philosophy to promote creative expression in all of its forms,” said United’s music director Jill LaForty. “We’re always looking to broaden our offerings to meet our residents’ interests. Teaming with Lunchbox Theatre was a natural step given that some of our residents already attend their productions. Now, with this partnership, we can bring professional theatre directly to those who find it more difficult to go out.”

Jamie Konchak as Peggy Ann Douglas in Miss Caledonia. Photo by Benjamin Laird

Jamie Konchak as Peggy Ann Douglas in Miss Caledonia. Photo by Benjamin Laird

Lunchbox To Go is a relatively new program for Lunchbox Theatre that focuses on bringing theatre into older adult communities and to community centres. “The program is an opportunity to promote theatre in the larger community,” said Valmai Coggin, development associate with Lunchbox Theatre. “We pick one of our shows that is performed in our theatre downtown and take it on tour. This year it was Miss Caledonia by Melody Johnson. The touring version is about 80% of the theatre version, including sets and costumes. We don’t take the lighting with us because each venue is so different.”

“I have never seen our Fish Creek theatre as full as when Miss Caledonia came to us in April,” recalls Jill. “Our residents were absolutely captivated and their enthusiastic response signalled we were on the right track in pursuing this partnership.”

“I’ve been going to Lunchbox since it started in 1975,” said Garrison Green resident Joyce Doolittle, who is a recent recipient of the Order of Canada for her work in Calgary theatre. “It’s a wonderful place for young playwrights and for actors at the beginning of their careers. Having the plays come here is a good thing as not everyone can get out, and you can always count on the quality of the productions.”

An in-house production isn’t the only way that aspects of the theatre will be brought to United residents. “We’re also delighted that as part of this partnership, members of Lunchbox’s artistic team will come into our communities at least three times this season,” added Jill. “They’ll give our residents back stories and added insight into current productions before some of them head out to see the shows.”

Jamie Konchak as Peggy Ann Douglas and Aleksandra Danicic as the Fiddler in Miss Caledonia. Photo by Benjamin Laird

Jamie Konchak as Peggy Ann Douglas and Aleksandra Danicic as the Fiddler in Miss Caledonia. Photo by Benjamin Laird

Lunchbox Theatre is located at the base of the Calgary Tower. It has been running noon-hour plays – usually one-act plays written by Calgary playwrights – for more than 40 years, and is considered to be one of the most successful and longest running noon-hour theatre companies in the world.

“We think that as many people as possible should have access to the performing arts,” said Valmai. “People can’t often come downtown, so the more we can diversify and bring theatre into the community, the more we will connect with older adults and the more our theatre productions will resonate with them.”

 

Next year’s visiting production for United residents – Gutenberg! The Musical! by Scott Brown and Anthony King –  will tour in the spring, from April 23 to May 5.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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When people get together to discuss issues and create art, the result can often be inspiring. That was the basis for Project Inspire, a collaborative project involving older adults from United Active Living, the United Way, LINKAges and the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association.

For the past year, the project combined discussions on matters that affect older adults – ageism, health and isolation – with the creation of artworks that reflected their thoughts.

For the participants, it opened discussion on a variety of sensitive subjects while bringing them together as new friends. “It’s a very worthwhile project,” said United Active Living resident Betty Earle. “It brings the different cultures together in a way that encourages friendship.”

The idea for the project was sparked by a donation by the Kanovsky Family Foundation to United Way of Calgary and Area. A six-week pilot project was developed that focused on ageism and how it affects older adults. The project was so successful, three more six-week projects were developed that expanded into discussions around health, spirituality and wellness, which were reflected in the art the participants produced.

“This project created opportunities for social inclusion,” said Alicia Lewis, LINKAges. “For our seniors in the East Village, social isolation is a concern, so seeing them so involved and interested in meeting others, and making friends with those in a different culture has been very important. It would be great to see this type of project expand to include other communities and other cultural aspects such as music and theatre.”

Social isolation can affect anyone, and Project Inspire provided an opportunity to connect with others. In fact, connections and friendship were two of biggest benefits for those taking part.

 

“What really impressed me about the project was that there was always something new to learn, both from our perspective as facilitators, and by the participants who learned from each other and by trying their hands a creating art, even though painting and drawing may have been new to them,” said Chantel Traub, creative facilitator, United Active Living.

A collaborative piece, with each participant contributing a painted square

A collaborative piece, with each participant contributing a painted square

For the participants, strangers became friends who opened up to each other with respect.”The most incredible thing came from being asked a question at the start of each session, and the people just relaxed with each other, the barriers came down,” said Frank MacLeod, who lives in the East Village. “There was no criticism of anyone’s point of view. Everyone was so respectful.” Chantel agreed. “There was no criticism or judgement despite the differences in culture, and the different educational backgrounds and life experiences. Just a simple respect for the different points of view.”

United’s creative facilitators who are also professional artists introduced a variety of creative elements to the participants. They encouraged them to express their thoughts through paint and paper. Creative expression is a cornerstone of the activities within United communities. Providing opportunities for participants to engage in a variety of stimulating creative workshops led by United’s practicing artists formed the framework of the project.

Wendell Yu and others from the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizen’s Association were keen participants, who hosted one of the sessions and were quick to accept their new friends. “The project made me so happy!” he said.

Chinese interpreter Louise Lee, who participated in the project said that increased socialization was an important result from the sessions. “They encouraged each other, and gained confidence to express themselves through art, which some of them hadn’t done since school.”

“This project was all about making connections with others, and sharing their experiences with each other,” said Maddison Klein, creative facilitator, United Active Living. “It truly was inspiring to see the energy that everyone brought to the table and the relationships that developed.”

Artwork from the latest Project Inspire session was displayed at C-Space in Marda Loop. The results have been so inspiring that there are now discussions about how to expand the program, either to other communities or to other generations.

“The intergenerational aspect would be a really good thing,” said Frank. “The different ages think very differently. People think about things differently based on their life experiences, so having a program like that would be very interesting.”

“Even though we spoke different languages, we found that it wasn’t a barrier to being friends. Today, I was given hugs from the people I met in the program from the Chinese community. That was great. That’s what friendship is all about,” said Betty.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.


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“Coming to a place like this where there are so many options, it’s just awesome!” – Resident Hertha Reich

Resident Hertha Reich in the Garrison Green art studio

Resident Hertha Reich in the Garrison Green art studio

United’s summer program guides are out for both Fish Creek and Garrison Green communities. Each contains over 30 pages of programs and ongoing activities that make living in the two communities fun and engaging.

Music, drawing, painting, pottery, discussion groups and fitness are just some of the ongoing programs. When you combine these with programs offerred by United’s community partners, the list is even more impressive.

“We have a wide range of partnerships with some of the best artistic, cultural and educational organizations in the city that give residents the opportunity to learn and experience a wealth of programs that broaden their horizons,” said Fish Creek program coordinator Kim Coulter. “The partnerships expose residents to plays and concerts outside our community. They also enable us to bring world-class performers on site, making the offerings accessible to all.”

Calgary Civic Symphony performing at Fish Creek

Calgary Civic Symphony performing at Fish Creek

“The programs and activities we offer residents are unique,” said Monica Schmidt, program development coordinator, Garrison Green. “At United, being creative is a way of life. We have professional artists on staff who provide support to everyone, from those who have never picked up a brush or a handful of clay, to those who were attracted to United specifically because they can continue their lifelong passion for art.”

To keep the mind active we foster a focus on the arts, creativity and stimulating social interaction. United’s extensive list of programs and activities ensures there is ample opportunity for ongoing learning and creative expression.

In collaboration with the residents, United has compiled a comprehensive guide of upcoming specialty and ongoing programs at both communities. Residents, along with their friends and families can use this resource to make plans to participate.

Both guides are available as printable PDFs at the following links:

Garrison Green program link

Fish Creek program link

Check with the monthly calendars and newsletters for any additions or updates.

“While the partnerships provide a number of one-of-a-kind opportunities, it’s often the residents who suggest programs or activities they would like us to put together. That’s why the list of programs is so unique. It’s as varied as the people who live here,” said Kim.

“Check back often,” advises Monica. “There’s always something new and the programs are always evolving based on resident feedback.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” – Author Henry David Thoreau

As the population ages, and is staying healthy longer into their later years, older adults are looking for lifestyles that support their interests. Health, community and creativity are the new expectations of those in their 70’s and beyond.

While lifestyle is about people, the environment and infrastructure around them must support their lifestyle choices.

“The last thing an older adult wants is to move into a community that reminds them of a hospital,” said Kim O’Brien, CEO. “Anyone can build four walls and a roof, but a great deal of care must be taken to ensure amenities function well and that residents feel at home.”

To support your lifestyle needs, United has used its more than 20 years of experience to look at the kinds of programs and activities residents want, then design communities around them.

United offers a range of suites to suit your lifestyle, from smaller studios, up to large two-bedroom suites, some up to 1,300 sq. ft.

A great deal of thought went into the design of the two United communities – Garrison Green and Fish Creek.

What are residents looking for? Creative activities and amenities are high on the list of importance. United’s activities are designed around the idea that an engaging and interesting lifestyle shouldn’t end when we hit 65. Research into aging shows that learning continues well into our later years. United’s Garrison Green community boasts one resident in her 80’s who earned an English degree, others are learning to play piano and guitar, while others are discovering hidden talents as artists.

Residents have the same freedom they enjoyed at home to do what they want, when they want and to come and go as they please. Communities are designed to ensure the safe movement of those who need the extra care, and United fully supports an integrative model where everyone is included in activities.

In each community there are green spaces, dining spaces for casual, formal or family get-togethers, where executive chef-designed menus offer variety and flexibility in meal times, a theatre, heated underground parking, an art studio and fitness area.

The Fish Creek community boasts a stunning, professionally designed open-air courtyard accessed from the dining room, art gallery and fitness areas. Walking paths, a water feature, orchard, putting green, bocce court, barbeque area, and sculpture gardens are all there for the enjoyment of residents, friends and families.

The building designs include spaces where guest lectures and other gatherings can be held. “We fully support the concept of lifelong learning. A person is never too old to learn something new. That’s why we have established close connections with St. Mary’s University, Mount Royal University, the Esker Foundation, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and many other groups that extend those learning opportunities for the residents,” said Kim Coulter, program development coordinator, Fish Creek. “These partnerships allow for professionals to come to our communities to host lectures and musical events. They provide the opportunity for intergenerational programming and bridge the gap for accessibility.”

Included in the  Fish Creek community is an expansive art gallery. This main floor gallery displays art by residents, staff and greater community artists. In addition, the courtyard is highlighted by sculptures created by well-known Canadian artists.

“Art and creative applications are an integral part of our programming,” said Jeff Chan, creative facilitator, Fish Creek. Residents have the capacity to create and express themselves through a variety of creative outlets no matter their age. Just recently we celebrated Hugh Kuwahara’s 104th birthday with a display of artwork created by him an his wife, Kay. Our art galleries have become a place to share resident artwork with the greater community, creating a sense of belonging and empowerment.”

“The whole focus on creativity and lifelong learning really highlights the fact that no matter a person’s age, the creative spark remains as strong as ever,” said Kim O’Brien. “And it’s such a pleasure to watch someone who is new to painting or working with clay, achieve something they never thought possible!”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 

 


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When Ross and Ellenore Campbell moved into their suite at United’s Fish Creek West, they were taken immediately by the depth of the available activities, especially in the areas of music and art.

“Ross has really taken to the art studio,” said Ellenore. “He practically lives there!” Before they moved, Ross had an artistic flair for wood carving and painting. Today, he has branched out to acrylic painting, sketching, ceramics and even sumi-e, a 2,000 year old form of black ink painting. In what other older adult community can you find that?

Ceramic Robin made by Ross Campbell“I tried ceramics for the first time and I had a feel for it right away,” said Ross. “Our granddaughter asked me to make a robin for her. It was quite the challenge. The kiln won’t take a solid piece of clay like that so I had to cut it in half, hollow it out, put it back together, then fire it. The creative facilitators who are all professional artists in the studio are very helpful and encouraging when it comes to technique, so with their help I think it turned quite well.”

Ellenore’s interests lay more towards music and knitting. “When I’m sitting, I’m knitting,” she quips. She has participated in many of the entertainment activities, which include performances at United by Calgary Opera, Calgary Philharmonic, Calgary Civic Symphony and many others, which United has sought out as artistic and creative partners. The residents also attend many performances outside of the community.

“I would say we were in a rut before coming here,” said Ellenore. “We had a place in the foothills that we we would spend summers at. We didn’t care to drive at night so we found that we no longer went to concerts and plays. We were very pleased that most are available here. It’s nice to have them come to us.” To get to and from outside performances and events, the United van takes residents to the venues and picks them up again afterwards.

Each month United creates a calendar of events that outlines ongoing activities such as art and exercise classes, and clearly points out the special programs. “We knew there were activities, but looking at the calendar – it’s great that there are so many things to do.”

Ellenore tries her hand at the paint pour

Ellenore tries her hand at the paint pour

This week, the art studio hosted a paint pour where various colours of paint are poured over a wooden block, flowing down onto a piece of black-painted plywood. When the upright block is removed, the plywood is tilted to merge the paints into a kaleidoscope of colour. “It was quite interesting and fun,” said Ross. “The results are quite different than doing a regular painting. It’s a lot like modern art!”

Ross adds a touch of blue to the poured canvas

Ross adds a touch of blue to the poured canvas

Ellenore and Ross are very supportive of the programs, activities and events held at Fish Creek. She recalls that one day she was riding in the elevator with a couple who were taking a tour of the community. She was asked what she thought of the programming. “Well, today it’s folk music and tomorrow it’s opera. That really peaked their interest. It’s great that there is so much available.” Ross echoed that sentiment. “I’ve been quite impressed with the variety of programs and activities. They have opened up new thoughts around activities we would like to do.”

“Before we moved here we weren’t putting ourselves out to do things in the city. Coming here, it’s all at our doorstep,” said Ellenore.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 

 


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“When one door closes, another opens” – Alexander Graham Bell

Dianne McDermid lives an active life. At 74, she hikes, bikes, dances and travels. She was instrumental in supporting Gail Hinchliffe’s philosophy behind United Active Living and the person-centred philosophy that is the focus of everything United does.

Gail met Dianne while Dianne was teaching a gerontology certificate program at Mount Royal College (now Mount Royal University). “While Dianne’s training as a nurse focused on a medical model of aging, I found in Dianne a kindred soul in wanting to develop a different approach,” said Gail. “While the industry was very prescriptive in its approach – all older adults should be treated the same way, meal times were set, medication given a certain way – Dianne was the only person at the time who understood what I was trying to do and that older adults should be treated as individuals. She was so extremely supportive.”

At the end of April, Dianne will leave United to focus on other interests. She doesn’t use the word “retirement” because she plans to stay just as active.

“I don’t ever see myself as a stereotypical senior, even though society slots me into that category. I’m very active and I’m constantly exploring new things. The outdated but typical view in society is that when we turn 65 we retire, and when we get older we move into a seniors’ home. For today’s older adult, that ageist view is completely wrong and we need to change our view of older adults and stop putting limitations on them. When I became involved with United I was already at your typical retirement age. Everything we’ve done was done when society says we should have stopped working!”

Gail says that Dianne’s expertise as a registered nurse and educator brought a great deal of credibility to the new endeavour. “Nursing staff we hired came from a medical background and Dianne played a vital role in ensuring that they understood the new philosophy while also exceeding the necessary licensing and regulatory standards important in our industry.”

Gail noted that the final paper she wrote in Dianne’s gerontology program was on building community, and the importance of establishing community partnerships, which laid the groundwork for the Garrison Green community. Gail credits Dianne’s approach to aging and the ongoing support she provided for the successful community United has become.

“I taught Gerontology from a positive perspective,” said Dianne. “Getting older isn’t about decline, but opportunity. Because of my training my early perspective came from the medical model – the physical side of aging. But the physical side isn’t the whole person. Attitude is so important. Our attitude governs how we see ourselves as we get older. We really can thrive as we age. What I taught was subjective. What we are doing at United is putting theory into practice. The residents living here see the philosophy turned into reality, and we continue to focus on what people can do rather than on what they can’t.”

A few years ago we recorded a video that further explains United’s philosophy and includes an interview with Dianne. You can watch it here.

“I’m thrilled with how well United’s philosophy has been accepted. Residents see it every day in our extensive arts and music programming and in our unique United Minds memory care program. We believe that people with dementia should be part of the community, not shut away in a closed wing as happens so often in other places. Everything we do is centred around the person. Meals are available any time during the day rather than restricted to certain times for the sake of efficiency. Residents don’t have to conform to our rules, we conform to their lives,” said Dianne, whose role at United was director of quality enhancement, and who was instrumental in achieving United’s latest Accreditation with Commendation  rating from Accreditation Canada.

“That’s the way I’m going to live the next stage of my life. I’ve created an environment that I want to live in. I’m going to live my life according to my values and get only as much support as I need. I’m not going to change my routine just so I can fit in somewhere. Should I choose to move into an older adult community, it should fit my lifestyle, not the other way around, and it should accommodate the different stages I go through as I age. That’s what we’ve created at United.”

Dianne has always said she would work until 75 and then change her focus. Her future plans aren’t set in stone, but she will pursue what interests her. Just as she does today.

“I look back and compare how older adults were viewed 50 years ago and how we see them today and there has been a positive change, but it’s not enough. We still hold biases against older people, and even older people hold those biases about themselves. They restrict themselves by ‘acting their age’ or by dressing more conservatively. So not only does society’s views need to change but our own views about who we are and how we want to live our lives.

“If I have any advice to give, it would be to maintain a positive attitude. Don’t buy into the notion of limitations. Don’t limit yourself to meet someone else’s expectations, and don’t allow your chronological age to dictate how you live your life. I’m almost 75 but I feel like I’m in my 20s. That’s how I see myself and how I will continue to live my life.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!


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“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain

If only writing is that easy. For some, writing flows naturally, but for others it can be a handwringing, emotional experience. Whatever the process, writing helps us express ourselves. And that’s why United introduced Writer’s Corner a few years ago. Each month a group of interested residents gets together to discuss and improve their writing. The program is led by two local writers Erika Bloedorn and Monica Schmidt who have been a part of the Garrison Green community for several years.

While Erika and Monica started as volunteers in the Mount Royal University Life Writing program, the connections they made inspired them to continue to draw out residents’ stories through writing. They developed this program to help people interested in writing gain the skills and confidence needed to pursue this passion.

Virginia Stewart, a published poet that we wrote about last year, is one of the longest attending members of the Writers’ Corner program. She has much to say about how this group has influenced her writing and allowed for stronger connections between her neighbours. This is her experience with the program.

Writer’s Corner, by Virginia Stewart

You may wonder what you have stumbled into when you find yourself on a Thursday evening drawn to a room full of laughter. It’s just one way to spend an evening at Garrison Green. After five minutes of free writing we are encouraged to share the results of our spontaneity.

We will take many hesitant steps on our way to successful writing. I say hesitant because we all understand when we put our thoughts and interpretations on paper— and then read them aloud to a group of new friends— we are uncertain how we will be received.

Wendy Martin in Writers Corner

Wendy Martin writing about her life in England

However, we accept the challenge as Lil rolls out a tale of Tigger, her cabin puss and Wendy reflects on her early life in England. These private recollections have been squirrelled away in our memories until one evening our pens take off and we feel prepared to share.

Can we indulge our spontaneity? Are we able to shed some light on our creations? We have turned our evenings into a collection of happenings, which serve to mark a turning point in our creativity.

We were about six people initially who were interested in doing some writing, or should I say in improving our writing. Two women, recent graduates from Mount Royal University’s English program were eager to work with a group of seniors who wanted to write.

That group has grown to about 13 people keen to talk about personal anecdotes. What does this group mean to me? I find I spend some of my quiet time reflecting on life’s experiences. Such little things often turn out to have a humorous side to them that we hadn’t noticed until we took time to listen.

Our Writer’s in Residence program is another popular program at United involving English students from Mount Royal University. Find out more in this video.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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Two of the most prolific artists at United’s Garrison Green community are Hugh and Kay Kuwahara. Despite just turning 104, Hugh continues to paint every day and his wife of 77 years, Kay, who will be 98 years old in May, is keeping her easel busy as well.

Together with their son Doug, and his wife Anne, Hugh celebrated his birthday with about 100 of his closest friends, and at the same time, Hugh and Kay’s works were put on display.

Hugh Kuwahara at work in the art studio

Hugh Kuwahara at work in the art studio

“We moved to Garrison Green six years ago,” said Hugh. “I had been introduced to water colour painting by a friend at another community we lived in, and carried that over to here. I like doing mountain scenes. They are a lot easier than faces!” he jokes.

Hugh and Kay spend part of every day in the Garrison Green art studio, where they have become regular fixtures, working on a variety of projects.

Kay Kuwahara with one of her paintings

Kay Kuwahara with one of her paintings

“The art studio was one of the big reasons we suggested they move to Garrison Green,” said daughter-in-law Anne Kuwahara. “We looked at the creative programs and thought this would be an ideal place for them.”

“My dad has always been creative,” said son Doug. “After he retired, he took up wood carving and produced a large number of pieces. And then before coming here, he took up painting.”

Together, Hugh and Kay have produced dozens of pieces.

Time your visit to take in Stonehenge at dusk

Autumn Glory by Kay Kuwahara

Old Giants by Hugh Kuwahara

Old Giants by Hugh Kuwahara

“I really didn’t start painting until I came to Garrison Green,” said Kay. “I saw the art studio, saw what other residents were doing. Now it’s something I really enjoy doing. Living so close to the mountains is a real inspiration for my paintings.”

At 104 and 97, the Kuwaharas are an inspiration when it comes to creativity. “I don’t think about age,” said Kay. “It’s not something that stops us from painting. We really enjoy it so we’ll keep doing it.”

As Kay mentioned, age is no barrier to creativity. See what other artists say about it in this video.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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Wendy Martin has a passion. For more than 50 years, she has been reflecting the world around her in quilts. Big or small, the quilts she makes tell the stories of her life.

Wendy's son Robert with Wendy's first quilt

Wendy’s son Robert with Wendy’s first quilt in 1967

Wendy's quilt for Canada's 150th anniversary

Wendy’s quilt for Canada’s 150th anniversary

“I started quilting in Canada’s Centennial year, 1967. I thought it would be nice to honour the 100th anniversary by making a quilt. And 50 years later, I created another one for Canada’s 150th. I was attracted to quilting because it’s considered a traditional North American craft that has its beginnings in the Middle Ages in Europe. Various quilting styles have developed over the years, but I consider mine the Wendy Martin style,” she laughs.

Wendy shows her quilt to Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch

Wendy shows her quilt to Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch

Wendy calls herself an Old World patchwork quilter, but while patchwork quilting often doesn’t involve a particular theme, many of her quilts spring from an inspirational moment.

“When Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch played Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for us, many residents were inspired to create artwork that reflected what they heard. For me, I saw colours and images in the music – children, witches, catacombs and the like, so I created a large quilt which impressed Rolf!”

 

 

Wendy doesn’t waste any piece of cloth, and her suite at United’s Garrison Green community is piled with more than 50 quilts and boxes of material, some containing unfinished quilts, which she calls her UFOs, or Unfinished Objects. She is often working on more than one project at a time, completing about two quilts a year.

Over her life of quilting, she estimates she has completed  more than 100, some of which were on display at her Trunk Show, which displayed dozens of her quilts to a highly appreciative audience.

What inspires her? “Really, it can be just about anything. Music inspires me. I see pictures in the music. One time, a particular piece was being played in our Music Appreciation program, and I saw a river. I found blue and green material in my boxes and created a quilt from that. While others see only the colours, I see the rivers.”

Wendy was involved in Girl Guides and Scouting for more than 30 years. She collected crests at international camps and Leadership Training that she used to create a quilt. “I really enjoyed my time in Guides, especially teaching the leaders and guides in wilderness camping, and the need to respect the forest,” she says.

“I’ve easily got enough material for another 20 quilts, but I never sell them. Quilting is a hobby and a passion, so I make them and give them away to family and friends. It’s simply a wonderful way to express the world around me. I’ll keep at it even though threading a needle is more difficult these days, but I don’t see that stopping me any time soon!”

 

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

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United has signed a partnership agreement with the Alberta Music Education Foundation (AMEF). Based in Edmonton, but with programs throughout the province, AMEF “provides funding and innovative ideas to Alberta’s music students and teachers.”

United’s first project with AMEF is the Alberta Heritage Music Project that brings students and older adults together to develop stories that are generated by memories linked to a particular song or piece of music from each of these two generations. The stories will then be turned  into plays, poetry or music that reflects each of those stories.

“Music is an important part of the programming we provide to residents at United Active Living communities,” said Jill LaForty, music director at United. “One of the reasons this project made sense for us is that we’re already into inter-generational storytelling with our residents through the Life Writing project with Mount Royal University. This was an opportunity to build on that success using the additional elements of music and drama and to involve some residents who are passionate about music. We know that everyone has a story to tell and this seemed like a particularly creative opportunity to engage our residents give them the opportunity to work with some very gifted young people.”

Resident Ernie Orford with student Michael Nimegeers

Resident Ernie Orford with student Michael Nimegeers

The project was suggested by Rolf Bertsch, who is well known to residents in his role as music director and conductor of the Calgary Civic Symphony, and his teaching work at the Mount Royal University Conservatory.  The project started in February and involves five students from Calgary’s Bishop Carroll High School and five residents of United’s Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities.

“The project connects the two generations through the sharing of musical memories,” said Joel Windsor, secretary, AMEF. “The older adults will share the music they grew up with, and compare that to what the students are listening to today. Those stories and memories from both generations will then be presented at performances in April at the two communities.”

The Heritage Music Project is part of an ongoing AMEF project that has been conducted in past years in Cochrane, Red Deer and Fort McMurray to provide an opportunity for music appreciation for all ages.

Student Brian Heckel records a story told by Garrison Green resident Lil Tyler

Student Brian Heckel records a story told by Garrison Green resident Lil Tyler

“This project is different from the other projects AMEF has done, ” said Jill. “Not only do the older adults share their stories, but the students do as well, and both generations will take part in the final performances. This mutual storytelling is something that one of the facilitators, Samantha Whelan, has brought to the project, and what’s interesting about the stories is that they sometimes bridge the two generations and contain common themes. Their life experiences overlap despite the passage of time.”

“Intergenerational learning used to happen in the home,” said Samantha Whelan Kotkas, who is co-facilitating the project with musician Aaron Young, who is adding all the music live. “That doesn’t happen much anymore so with this project, the two generations are coming together to tell their stories. Music helps trigger those stories. It’s fascinating to see how closely the stories told by the older adult and that of the student resonate together. That happened spontaneously and will be reflected on stage when the stories are told in April.”

“There is no distance between the generations,” said Samantha. “This project really demonstrates how similar we all are.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!