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Sheila Brinsmead with a few of her paintings on display

Sheila Brinsmead with a few of her paintings on display

You don’t need to be an artist to live in one of United’s two communities, but with professional artists on staff, you might find your hidden talent!

“I started painting as a child, working with pastels, but eventually began working with water colours and oils,” said Sheila Brinsmead, who moved into United’s Fish Creek two years ago. Sheila was attracted to the community because of its extensive creative programs including a full art studio and art gallery. She is a semi-professional painter and currently has an art show downtown and some of her works are displayed in the United art gallery as part of a show and sale by a group of painters known as the Painted Ladies, who are students of Sheila’s daughter, Mary-Leigh Doyle. They put on shows every year, and have partnered with United for the past two years.

Mary-Leigh, who has painted regularly with her mom for 20 years, comes to Fish Creek twice a week and has become close friends with others who come to the art studio.

Sheila and daughter Mary-Leigh Doyle share a laugh in the art studio

Sheila and daughter Mary-Leigh Doyle share a laugh in the art studio

“My first sale never really happened!” laughs Sheila. “One of my instructors had a show at Chinook Centre and I got a call from someone who wanted to buy one of mine. I was thrilled, but I turned him down.” She put her paint brushes aside to raise her seven children, and resumed painting after her husband died in his 50s. “When something like that happens, all of your plans for life after retirement change. I decided that if I’m ever going to paint, it has to be now. Don’t think about doing something 10 years from now, think about doing it now. Time is so fragile.”

Sheila and Mary-Leigh have had two art shows at United and one outside the community. “When we looked for a place for mom we were very attracted to the art studio. It is marvellous. The staff are professionals in painting, ceramics and other creative areas. The residents paint at all levels from beginner to professional.”

“Sheila has encouraged so many people to come to the art studio,” said creative facilitator Chantel Traub. “One of Sheila’s friends, Joan Patterson, who is an amazing quilter, has been coming into the studio to try her hand. Sheila is a big inspiration for others.”

“There must have been some very creative minds when United was founded that wanted to see creative interests represented in an older adult community,” said Sheila. “The programs are excellent. Absolutely A1!”

Sheila puts the finishing touches on a painting while Mary-Leigh looks on

Sheila puts the finishing touches on a painting while Mary-Leigh looks on

Mary-Leigh has seen a positive change in Sheila since coming to Fish Creek. Sheila broke her shoulder – twice – while living at home. She and her family thought a move to a community would be the best option for her. “It was difficult at first,” said Mary-Leigh. “She had to give up her home and the familiar part of her life there, but her painting and the art studio are what brought her back to her old self. This is where she thrives and comes alive, by participating in all of the various programs.”

“I’m so surprised by the calibre of the artwork being produced by the residents,” said Mary-Leigh. “The camaraderie is really something. People are trying new things. The residents all have different interests and skills. The staff here are the most patient and nurturing people that I’ve ever seen. This place really is heaven for artists!”

Sheila and Mary-Leigh also host an art history club. During one of those meetings they came to Fish Creek to see the work of artist John Snow, part of a larger collection of art called the United Collection, which hangs on the walls and sits in the courtyard of the community. Snow’s work is also displayed at the National Gallery of Canada and the Governor-General’s home in Ottawa.

The Painted Ladies work, including work by Sheila and Mary-Leigh, are on display in the Fish Creek art gallery. They are having a show and sale June 1. The public is welcome to attend between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The address is United Active Living Fish Creek,  51 Providence Blvd. S.E. T2X 0X2. United will have staff on hand to answer any questions you may have about living at a United community.

Photos and video by Sherana Productions.

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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.

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Artist Ann Haessel explains an aspect of one of her pieces

Artist Ann Haessel explains an aspect of one of her pieces

“I didn’t know I could be an artist until 1982!”

Ann Haessel produces extraordinary work. Her latest show, which is on at the lower gallery at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary until March 27, displays more than 80 pieces that are for sale, with profits going to the Rotary Club to buy school supplies for students in Cambodia.

 

 

Wendy Martin, left, and Hertha Reich admire one of Ann's works

Wendy Martin, left, and Hertha Reich admire one of Ann’s works

“Most of the work you see was produced since 2002. I’ve done a lot of shows over the past 20 years. Three in New York City! When I started, I had a lot of support and encouragement from family and friends,” said Ann. “My mentor was a 100-year-old gallery owner who told me that I was going to make it.”

Ann uses unusual material including bone and cactus

Ann uses unusual material including bone and cactus

Ann, who moved into United’s Garrison Green community three months ago with her husband Walter, describes her work as textural, unique and created serendipitously. “I don’t have a plan for each piece. It just comes from somewhere and I go from there.” Ann buys material in shops that most people pass by, and her work includes plastics, metals – even bone and cactus.

Much of her work is in three dimensions. “It’s just a style that has evolved over time,” she said.

“I’ve never seen work like this in all my years of working with fabrics,” said Wendy Martin, an accomplished quilter, who also lives at Garrison Green. “I like the three dimensions. Working in layers, it’s just fantastic!”

Phyllis Graham points out the detail in Ann's work

Phyllis Graham points out the detail in Ann’s work

“I’m in awe of her work,” said resident Phyllis Graham, looking at one of Ann’s pieces in the gallery. “There are thousands of threads! I’m just amazed at the fine detail.”

During a special trip to the gallery, Garrison Green residents bought six of Ann’s pieces. Ann and Walt moved into Garrison Green because of the variety of programming. “It was the right time, the right place and the right direction for us,” said Ann. Does she have any plans to stop producing her unique artworks? “There’s no age restriction on creativity. My suite is filled with my favourite pieces and I’ve brought enough art supplies when we moved that I can continue if I want.”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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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“I’ve often thought about writing my life story, so when this project came up I jumped at it,” said Fish Creek resident Gordon Schnell. Gordon, along with his wife Jeanne were partnered with two students from St. Mary’s University in a year-long life writing project called Weaving Words of Wisdom: Intergenerational Life Writing.

“This project has brought up memories that I’d forgotten about. I think something like this changes the way we see each other. It strengthens our community,” said Gordon.

Gordon and Jeanne Schnell with painter Jenna Leong

Gordon and Jeanne Schnell with painter Jenna Leong

The project was a collaboration between St. Mary’s and United’s Fish Creek community. It brought together about a dozen residents who were paired with students, who, together, wrote some of the residents’ most memorable experiences. As well, a student, Jenna Leong, painted artworks that reflected some of the stories, and student Daniel Melvill Jones shot portrait photos of the residents. The paintings and portrait photos are hanging in the Fish Creek art gallery. A book collecting the stories, photos and paintings is in production.

Jeanne recalled an early memory of living on a farm and being close to nature. She was curious about the world around her. She and other students wrote letters to soldiers serving overseas in the Second World War. The contrast between her serene life on the farm and the chaotic world of the war helped frame her later life and how she viewed her place in it. “What do you leave for the world?” she asked. “Society needs to be kinder and more compassionate. We should lead by example.”

“My father came to Canada from the Ukraine and understood the difficulty in being accepted into a new community,” recalls Jeanne. “My family went out of its way to make friends with those who couldn’t speak English well, or who were disabled. That support for the underdog stayed with me my whole life.”

Jenna Leong's interpretation of Jack Boyd's story

Jenna Leong’s interpretation of Jack Boyd’s story

While the memories were specific – meeting a future spouse, favourite holidays, living on the farm – each story also reflected the wisdom that came from those experiences that residents have carried with them decades later. One resident, Jack Boyd recalled narrowly escaping death several times while working. “Everything happens for a reason,” he said. Another resident recalled teaching at a time when refugees came to Canada during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. While difficult because of a lack of resources and the language barrier, she learned that each person should enjoy each moment and make the most of every situation. And another resident had a curious mind and loved to travel. Despite the differences in language and culture, those experiences taught her to keep a positive attitude.

The residents and the students have formed a close bond through their storytelling experiences. Tara Hoban, who was paired with Gordon Schnell said, “Gordon has helped me to appreciate the passage of time, and he has shown me that time can bring happiness.”

Mikayla Ravenda, who was paired with Jeanne Schnell said, “Working with Jeanne was an eye-opening experience. She is one of the most caring and compassionate people I know. I appreciated seeing how her core values growing up shaped her life.”

In an interesting twist, the project was opened to older adults from the greater community who provided some of their stories.

Charles Jalsoviczky with granddaughter Sarah

Charles Jalsoviczky with granddaughter Sarah

“I got involved because of my granddaughter Sarah,” said Charles Jalsoviczky. Sarah is a student at St. Mary’s. “It sounded like a very interesting project, so Sarah and I contributed some of my experiences.”

“I give a lot of credit to the students who listened to my stories and captured them on paper,” said Gordon. “I was pretty excited to take part. Now I’m going to print out those stories and include them in my will. It’s a good way of preserving our history that might otherwise be forgotten.”

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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!

Photos by United Active Living, Daniel Melvill Jones. Video by Sherana Productions.

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United’s Spring Program Guides are now available for downloading or viewing on our website (see links below). Created for each of the Fish Creek and Garrison Green communities, the guides reflect the dozens of programs and outings available to residents over the course of the next three months. Each month, programs are offered around themes. The theme for March is the Winds of Change. In  April, the theme is Zen, and in May, the theme is the Victorian Era.

Hand-painted kite by resident Linda Bolton

Hand-painted kite by resident Linda Bolton

Along with the specialty programs pertaining to the themes, United communities offer regular ongoing programs that focus on health, community and creativity. Each guide contains more than 40 pages of interesting, informative and resident-focused programming.

“The programs and outings we offer residents are based on what the residents want,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development and creative expressions manager. “We work closely with our community partners to offer outings and in-house programs that residents find interesting, stimulating and educational. Some of the partnership highlights include talks by Calgary Philharmonic associate conductor Karl Hirzer and Calgary Opera conductor Kimberly-Ann Bartczak, and an in-house performance from the Calgary Jazz Orchestra.”

Outings to Calgary Philharmonic concerts, exhibitions at museums and art galleries, shows at the Calgary Opera and Lunchbox Theatre and more are offered regularly. In-house concerts and lectures are also regular opportunities and we have all manner of people and professions in to share their knowledge and talents with us. From Mount Royal University professors, members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and the Calgary Civic Symphony, and lectures from local historians, there is truly something for everyone.

Ceramic works by resident Louise Dean

Ceramic works by resident Louise Dean

“Our partnership with Mount Royal University and the Conservatory brings residents a wide variety of performances that you won’t find anywhere else,” said Monica Schmidt, program development coordinator, Garrison Green. “For instance, in March alone we’ll enjoy a performance from Mount Royal’s speech arts and drama students, a lecture by an expert in Greek and Roman studies, a concert from the Arioso Children’s Choir and a question and answer period with political science professor Duane Bratt. United has almost a dozen community partners that provide residents with a wide variety of experiences. Over the next three months, residents will have a large number of programs to choose from that promote lifelong learning, music, art, education and community connections.”

If you’re considering a move to an older adult community, lifestyle options are an important part of your decision. Take a look through the program guides and you’ll see that United offers something truly unique and exciting.

Here are the links to the guides for Fish Creek and Garrison Green.

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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!

Photos by United Active Living. Video by Sherana Productions.

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“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” – Albert Einstein

Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch often performs at United

Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch often performs at United

Listening to an exceptionally talented pianist or putting a paintbrush to canvas touch only a small part of the extensive list of programs that United offers residents at its two communities. United’s new winter program guides for Garrison Green and Fish Creek highlight a wide variety of exciting programs coming up over the next three months. Thanks to United’s partnerships, residents will be heading out to see the St. Mary’s University Choir, Calgary Civic Symphony, Lunchbox Theatre, Mount Royal Conservatory’s Sounds of the Season, Calgary Pro Musica, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.

“Researchers have long studied how getting older affects us, but only recently has the research focused on the positive aspects of aging, including a renewed interest in creativity and the social aspects that brings. We’re finding that age is no barrier to creativity,” said Kim Coulter, United’s creative expressions manager. “United provides the right atmosphere and opportunity for residents to express themselves. Our philosophy is to encourage residents to do that through the arts: singing, music, drawing, painting, dance, pottery and sculpture, plus the opportunity to attend professional and amateur performances both outside the community and in our own theatres.”

Resident Mary Fenwick performs with the Calgary Youth Orchestra

Resident Mary Fenwick performs with the Calgary Youth Orchestra

United’s extensive list of programs and activities – both specialty programs and events, and regular programs – sets United apart through the variety that is offered, and the program partnerships with Calgary’s art and cultural organizations.

“At United, being creative isn’t a hobby. It’s a way of life,” said Monica Schmidt, program coordinator, United’s Garrison Green community. “We have professional artists on staff who provide support for every level, from those who have never picked up a brush or a handful of clay, to residents who were attracted to United because they can continue their lifelong passion for art.”

Resident Con Irving's wood carvings on display at Fish Creek

Resident Con Irving’s wood carvings on display at Fish Creek

United has fully stocked art studios at both Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities, plus art galleries to display resident artworks as well as showings of professional work. Not only is it fun, but expression through the  arts can have health benefits researchers are just starting to understand.

As well, participation in the arts encourages connecting with others and making new friends – a cornerstone of United’s philosophy. Research shows that older adults who are the most socially engaged remain healthy and active. Communities develop when everyone has a choice, when residents are active, learning new things and participating in community events that they find interesting and stimulating.

United’s comprehensive guides of upcoming specialty and ongoing programs at both communities is available online. Each contains about 30 pages of programs so that residents and their families can see what’s available and make plans to participate.

Both guides are online at these links:

Garrison Green program link

Fish Creek program link

“When you see everything written down in one location, you realize just how extensive the programs  are,” said Kim. “It’s what makes living in a United community exciting and fun. There’s always something new and the programs are changing and evolving all the time based on resident input.”

Photos by Sherana Productions, United Active Living, Mount Royal Conservatory. Video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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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“Someone once asked me how many balls of yarn I have. They’re still waiting for an answer. I’m still counting!” – Anonymous

Madge McAdam

Madge McAdam

When 101 year old Madge McAdam retired from nursing in the early 80s, she decided that the tiny babies she was looking after needed hats to keep them warm. She began knitting touques for them. Almost 40 years later, she still makes four or five each week. When she moved into Garrison Green, she found others who enjoyed knitting and a knitting club was formed.

A quilter and those who enjoy other fibre arts joined, so the name was changed to the fibre arts club, and is now one of the busiest groups in the community.

Learning to knit, crochet, quilt or do needlepoint are fine arts that many people are no longer familiar with. But as an older adult, these art forms were commonplace and remain an important place in their lives.

“I’ve done a lot of handwork over the years, both on my own and in groups,” said Chris Serafini. “I really like the camaraderie that exists with a group, which is why I’m working with the residents.”

Chris, who is the daughter of long-time resident Gladys Duffner, is an avid volunteer who spends a lot of time with her mom but also finds time to help with the fibre arts club as well as to volunteer with several other worthy causes.

“I really like the idea of building connections among residents, and knitting, crocheting, quilting and other fibre arts create a strong bond, especially when you have the same interests,” said Chris.

Wendy Martin

Wendy Martin

Wendy Martin agrees. She’s working on the pieces that make up a quilt. She says there’s companionship in the club. “We enjoy each other’s company. And that carries over to other groups here.” She gestures to others at the table. “Three of us play cribbage together regularly.”

Trudy Martin

Trudy Martin

“Do you knit?” Trudy Martin, no relation to Wendy, says it’s one of the first questions she asks new residents. “It’s a great way to introduce yourself and something lots of others have in common. Many of us have lost our spouses, so a club like this is an excellent way to make new friends.”

For the past several years Chris has supported the fibre arts club by finding supplies, working with their annual fibre arts show and sale and delivering the finished products to hospitals and charities. “When you have that many people making things, you end up with quite an inventory at the end of the year. After all, there’s only so many scarves and mitts you can give to family members!” jokes Chris. “That’s when the decision was made to hold a sale for charity.”

The eight to twelve regular members of the club create a variety of products that were put up for sale last week, with proceeds going to several charities. Last year, the residents chose the Children’s Cottage Society, Women in Need Society, the Mustard Seed and Sonshine Community Services to receive donations.

“The sale usually attracts the residents and their families, and staff,” said Chris. “This year, they raised over $1,000 for charity, plus we’ll be bringing about 200 of Madge’s newborn touques to the Rockyview Hospital.”

Margaret Hails

Margaret Hails

Along with the friendships that develop, Margaret Hails, who is busy today knitting mittens, says being in the club brings people of diverse backgrounds together. “There’s an understanding that develops. I was raised during the war in England, and one of my best friends was raised during the war in Germany. We talk about this all the time, how people are all the same. We were on opposite sides in the war, but we went through the same things, so we both know how important peace is.”

The members of the fibre arts club meet regularly, and pursue their passion for creating on their own. So if you’re looking for that perfect gift –  potholders, dish clothes and towels, scarves or mittens – just talk to the members of the fibre arts club. They just might have a little something left over from the sale.

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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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It’s a phrase we hear often, but in United’s case, the idea evolved literally into the making of a lemonade stand that was the catalyst for encouraging residents to contribute important life lessons they have gathered over the years.

“A lot of planning goes into our programming for every month.” Garrison Green creative facilitator Maddison Klein describes this planning process: “We try to make sure that we have an interdisciplinary focus to the programs that we offer, which means that we incorporate the arts, music, food and educational aspects into every month. We choose a theme each month that we can base some of our programs around, and for the month of September our theme was lifelong learning. Somehow that evolved into the idea of a lemonade stand, but instead of paying for a glass, we decided to ask residents to swap a life lesson in exchange for the lemonade.”

United’s creative facilitators planned an afternoon workshop so that residents could join in on the making of the stand itself. Residents painted letters onto pre-cut pieces of canvas for the lemonade stand’s banner. Martin Boutet, pictured left with Maddison, was eager to help and ended up painting all of the wood needed to construct the stand in a bright lemon colour.

Every month United hosts a Welcome Tea at each community where new residents are introduced to everyone, and are given a very warm welcome into their new home.

“The Welcome Teas are a very popular icebreaker and are designed to help residents mingle, start conversations and get to know each other,” said Maddison. “The lemonade stand got everyone thinking about positive life lessons that they could share.”

For this particular Welcome Tea the programming team set up the lemonade stand and distributed some conversation starters to get folks comfortable.

What did they come up with? Here are a just a few.

“Change the Love of Power to the Power of Love”

“Remember that not everyone does everything the same way you do”

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”

“In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

“Believe only some of what you see, less of what you hear”

“Go with the flow”

“Be kind to one another”

“Make every day worthwhile”

“Don’t go into debt!”

Adds Maddison, “Our goal is to always find new ways that residents can express themselves creatively, so while the lemonade stand was successful, we  are already thinking of ways we can expand it by combining it with a different program next time. It’s important that we keep our offering fresh and exciting.”

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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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United’s creative philosophy and its extensive list of programs and outings is driven by the residents.  Surveys are conducted and meetings held regularly to get feedback and suggestions for the programs planned at both Fish Creek and Garrison Green.

“Our programming is not about what we as staff think is best,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek’s program coordinator. “We draw on the residents’ interests, skills and experience. The most successful programs are those that are inspired by residents.”

Kim points to a film they showed recently in Fish Creek’s theatre. “Resident Inger Copland suggested we show a film about the life of Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. It was released in June in the U.S. but wasn’t available in Canada yet, so she asked if I could bring it in for residents. Her daughter is a film distributor so together we brought the documentary in, and Inger introduced the film. It took some organizing to arrange the special screening, but it was worth it as the residents really appreciated seeing the film.”

“I was really pleased that Kim was able to bring this film here,” said Inger. “We had about 40 people in the theatre, and it was really well received.”

You can see the trailer for the film here.

In October,  a comic who does a tribute to Red Skelton will perform. “That was another program that came directly from resident feedback,” said Kim. “By listening to their likes and dislikes, we are continually refining the programs we offer. Resident participation is an important component in everything we do.”

Conrad Irving proudly displays one of his paintings

Fish Creek resident Conrad Irving proudly displays one of his paintings

The annual Fall Fair is a prime example of directly involving residents. “We let residents know several months a head of time that the fair is coming in October,” said Monica Schmidt, Garrison Green’s program development coordinator. “In an effort to create a Fall Fair atmosphere – think baking championships, quilting shows, a sense of community, and the like – we have connected with some of our food and beverage vendors, our residents and our staff to put this event together. The art studio has curated a show of past works that residents now living at both of our communities created before moving in. This provides not only a visual and artistic aspect to the fair itself but also gives us greater insight into our residents lives and helps us to know them even better. Our Garrison Green Fibre Arts club will have a booth to display some of their current work and to advertise their upcoming charity sale. In short, we are excited with the way this Fall Fair is coming together as an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships among the residents, staff and the community.”

Plus, United’s arts and culture partners offer residents the best music, theatre and educational programs both outside the two communities and during more intimate performances within the communities. See our blog on fall programs for more program details.

“I’m really impressed with the partnerships,” said Garrison Green resident Alexis Beddoe after a recent concert by the Calgary Jazz Orchestra. “They keep surprising me with the professional level of the programs we have here.”

“The variety of programs is one of the reasons my wife and I chose to move to Fish Creek three months ago,” said Fish Creek resident Fred Heintzman. “I’m an active person, so staying active appeals to me.”

MRU Political Science professor Duane Bratt

MRU Political Science professor Duane Bratt

“We recognize that at times our programs can be weighted towards music and art, so we’ve asked the residents what else they would like to experience. They let us know they would like to have more lectures and discussions on history and political science. These talks have been well received as well,” said Kim.

Kim notes that an interesting result of consulting with residents is the shift in interests as new people move in. “Everyone is different and has different interests, likes and experiences, so when new residents move in they bring those interests with them, which we then incorporate into our programming. We don’t do the same programs over and over again.”

Garrison Green residents Hertha Reich (left) and Betty Earle share a laugh in the art studio

Garrison Green residents Hertha Reich (left) and Betty Earle share a laugh in the art studio

Monica also sees interests change among those who have lived in the communities for some time. “As we continue to offer new outings, events and groups we find that people who may not have been participating in anything, suddenly start coming out and getting more involved in the community. As they find people to connect with through that ‘gateway’ program or outing, they’ll often start branching out into other areas as well and bond with even more people. Sometimes these new endeavours might be something more intellectual like our newly minted Civil Conversations discussion group while others may be more playful and informal like spending an afternoon at a Cat Café. Regardless, residents often inspire each other to try new things and everyone – staff, residents, community partners, and family members –  is proud and excited when a program they have suggested and helped to build takes shape.”

“This kind of interaction is quite unique in an older adult community,” said Kim. “When you combine the interests of residents with the partnerships we have with the various organizations in Calgary, we really do offer one-of-a-kind programming that is as varied as the people who live here. It’s what makes living here exciting and fun. There’s always something new and the programs are changing and evolving all the time based on the residents’ feedback.”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions, United Active Living, Focus Features

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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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United’s arts and cultural partners will once again display their talents to residents of both Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities as the fall program guides highlight events from September through November.

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra performing

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra is one of United’s newest partners

“United has always taken pride in the wide variety of speciality programs and ongoing, regular programs that we offer residents of both communities,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program coordinator. “We work closely with residents regularly to determine the type of programs and outings they would like us to make available. Plus, our arts and culture partners offer residents the best music, theatre and educational programs both outside our communities and during more intimate performances within our communities.”

Lifelong learning is one of our guiding themes at United,” said Monica Schmidt, program development coordinator, Garrison Green. “When residents move here, they may choose to continue to pursue a lifelong interest, explore new concepts or delve back into an interest that had taken a back seat. Regardless, there are a great many options available within our unique programming.”

2015 Honens Laureate Luca Buratto performed at United several times

2015 Honens Laureate Luca Buratto performed at United several times

Lifelong learning options include in-house programs such as music appreciation discussions, TED Talks, resident choirs, art workshops, educational lectures, fitness classes and a variety of outings. On top of this, our partnerships with professional organizations throughout the city bring performances into the two communities. One of the highlights in September will be selection of the new Honens Laureate. As part of that partnership, several finalists will perform for United residents in September, and the chosen Laureate will perform for residents several times over the next three years.

“Learning new things doesn’t stop at a certain age,” said Kim. “Learning continues throughout your life, and our in-house programs and outings promote an active, thriving lifestyle that you won’t find anywhere else.”

“The variety of programs is one of the reasons my wife and I chose to move to Fish Creek three months ago,” said Fred Heintzman. “We really like the independent living aspect and the size of the suites. I’m an active person, so staying active appeals to me.”

A significant part of United’s ongoing programs centres around the two community art studios. Supported by professional artists, residents are encouraged to explore new art forms and use their imaginations to create paintings, sculptures and other works of art that are regularly displayed in the two art galleries.

The fall program guides together offer more than 60 pages of events, programs and outings, with a special emphasis on the arts.

View or download the Garrison Green community fall program guide.

View or download the Fish Creek community fall program guide.

Photos by Honens, Calgary Jazz Orchestra. Video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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.


You're Browsing Creative Expression

“Creativity is important at all times in our lives,” said Sage Wheeler, a creative facilitator at United Active Living. “I’d call it a function of being human. So accessing our deeper creative selves can be healing. It’s something I think we could all use more of, but for older adults it can be a vital addition to their experience during a time of significant life changes.

Resident Jim Dolph with an ocean painting

Resident Jim Dolph with an ocean painting

Sage recalls a workshop that the studio did on artist Maud Lewis, who became successful despite lifelong rheumatoid arthritis. “Using artists like Maud gives a framework for a more expansive way of looking at art. It’s not about rendering a tree so it is perfect, but taking our rich inner lives and expressing them through art. It reminds me of one of our artists, Jim Dolph, whose artwork is focused so much on happiness and humour. He went from trying to recreate images in realistic detail to experimenting with impressionist styles and changing subject matter.”

Sage is one of the professional artists who works with residents to introduce them to the world of art, and open creative channels that many aren’t aware of. The facilitators see first hand that age isn’t a barrier to creativity.

“Quite often people tell us they aren’t artistic, therefore they don’t feel comfortable coming down to the studio,” said creative facilitator Maddison Klein. “Most people who have spent their lives working in other fields have always wanted to explore their creative side, but have never had the time. The most rewarding moments for me occur when people realize they don’t have to be good at art right away in order to be a part of the studio and have fun. As soon as our residents decide to ignore their hesitations and break that initial barrier of uncertainty, they realize that they can, in fact, make art!”

Jeff Chan and resident Al Gething in the Fish Creek art studio

Jeff Chan and resident Al Gething in the Fish Creek art studio

United’s Fish Creek community opened in December, 2015, with the studio quickly becoming a focal point for the residents. “Since then we have seen the community grow in all aspects, and the art studio is no exception,” said Jeff Chan, creative facilitator. “It has become a staple of the community and a social hub for interaction.  We see all people of varying backgrounds come through, with limited to extensive backgrounds in the arts.  No matter their previous experience, each participant equally creates and contributes to the community.”

“In the art studio, perfection is outdated, messy lines are cool, and mistakes are master pieces,” said Lulu Souraya, a creative facilitator who sees the excitement in residents each time she introduces them to clay.  “We strive to communicate the importance of being free through art and to recognize that it is limitless. Clay, as well other mediums, allows that freedom. Whether it is hand built or thrown off the wheel, there is a sense of fulfilment and comfort that it creates.  It is fascinating how sharing ideas and new techniques can trigger residents who have never used clay before, to try it for the first time. I am enlightened by the positive energy and engagement in the clay workshops and hope to inspire others to explore the world of ceramics.” 

United’s creative philosophy is driven by the residents. United caters to the individual and creates programs that draw on the residents’ interests, skills and experience. The most successful programs are those that are inspired by residents.

The studios in both Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities are open 24 hours, which allows the residents to work on projects whenever the muse strikes. Those who are new to painting or sculpture can often be seen on their own, or working alongside new-found friends.

Residents may be unsure of themselves when trying something new, but the facilitators and other residents provide a supportive atmosphere where experimentation is encouraged.

“It isn’t necessarily about what somebody pursues creatively, but that they are pursuing something,” said Sage. “We offer a wide range of options—painting, ceramics, poetry, writing, music, collage—because different people have different interests. It creates an atmosphere of non-judgmental exploration, which is so important to give everyone the permission to create.”

“The creation of art allows for one to delve deeper into their personal lives and spark conversations,” said Jeff. “Through art we are able  open up a channel for communication that may have not existed otherwise.  The studio is a safe place for anyone to explore these avenues and share their ideas. All the artwork produced is unique and we strive to showcase that.”

Photos by United Active Living, video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

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.