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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.

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 Goggin, 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.

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.

Photos by: Benjamin Laird

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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Combining music with storytelling is the premise behind a new project between United and the Alberta Music Education Foundation (AMEF) that brought residents and students together at two performances at United communities.

United and AMEF recently signed a partnership agreement that encourages the use of music to add a new dimension to traditional storytelling programs. The result was two amazing performances involving residents of United’s two communities and students from Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary.

“This was a unique way to bring important stories to light that might otherwise have not been told,” said Samantha Whelan Kotkas, a facilitator on the project. “We asked residents for a favourite song from their younger days and then asked them what the song reminded them of. Then we paired students with the residents to create a skit around the story, which incorporated the music. The result was highly entertaining!”

83-year-old Sonia Eisler from the Garrison Green community used the 1967 song What a Wonderful World to recall visits to B.C.’s Harrison Hot Springs and the wonderful times her family had there. “I was a little nervous about telling my story but everyone was so encouraging. They made it a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it!” said Sonia. “Music has always been a big part of my life. It was nice to hear the talent and gifts that the students brought to the performances.  While I was reluctant at first, this experience has been inspiring and I’m going to become more involved in some of the other events Garrison has to offer.”

The students not only supported the stories the residents had to tell, but displayed an amazing range of talent on their own. Student Katie McMillan, backed by musicians Aaron Young on guitar and Denis Dufresne on violin, sang an emotional rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah for a friend who had recently passed.  Amy Gulewicz used the Beatles’ Hey Jude to talk about music being more about emotion than the notes, Michael Nimegeers and the students performed Everybody Wants to be a Cat from the play the Aristocats, and Jack Storwick talked about his love for collecting vinyl records after attending the Las Vegas play Love, featuring the Beatles’ music. “A lot of work goes into things we take for granted,” Jack told the audience. “After hearing that album, I appreciated how much work it took to create it. The lesson for me was, never take anything for granted.”

Garrison Green’s Lil Tyler and student Amy Gulewicz performed a short play based on the 1936 song It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie. Lil recalled a time when she was eight when an aunt became engaged, but then was heartbroken when the man called off the engagement in a letter, and even asked for the return of the ring. “This project was a terrific idea,” said Lil. “That song was popular at the time so in my mind that event is tied to the song. Later, when Hitler came to power, that song was tied to something much bigger.”

 

Fish Creek resident Agnes Rewucki used video to recall a trip to India by ship, and while onboard, she became known as an unbeatable ping pong player, which she re-enacted for the appreciative audience.

 

 

And Fish Creek resident Ernie Orford and Michael Nimegeers recalled Ernie’s love for the violin, but his family couldn’t afford one so he turned to the harmonica, which Ernie played for the audience. Ernie recalled that he later purchased a violin through the Eaton’s catalogue, and he became a self-taught left-handed violinist performing at small house parties.

 

AMEF chair Rolf Bertsch, a long-time friend of United, suggested the project as a way to bring older adults and students together. “AMEF did a similar project several years ago, but this one was so successful that I see it expanding to include other older adult communities where the arts are an important component of their philosophy.”

United’s music director, Jill LaForty, who saw the project through from its inception, saw the relationship-building that happened among the communities and the participants to be one of the most important aspects of the project. “For residents who came to our final presentations, they saw their neighbours in a whole new light. They saw some people who had been very quiet, suddenly expressing themselves or they discovered a talent, like Ernie playing the harmonica, that they had no idea was there. And the closeness that developed between the students and our residents in some cases will definitely continue long after this project is just a memory. Creative expression and relationship building – that’s what this was about.”

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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Residents at United’s Fish Creek community played host this week to performers from Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artists program.  Residents from United’s Garrison Green visited the Fish Creek theatre to take in the performance. Four performers – Daevyd Pepper, Jillian Bonner, Geoffrey Schellenberg and Morgan Traynor –  accompanied on the piano by their director Mel Kirby, thrilled the more than 50 residents with popular numbers, and songs from the upcoming Calgary Opera performance of Eugene Onegin.

Emerging artist Daevyd Pepper, a tenor, says he loves performing for an older audience. “Older adults have usually heard some of the songs before or are planning to attend an upcoming performance,” he said. “Older listeners are also quite interactive. They like to see the performers up close and often engage in conversation with us afterwards. That adds a lot of meaning to me to know that I’m reaching my listeners.”

Here is a portion of Daevyd’s performance for residents.

Calgary Opera is one of several arts, culture and higher learning organizations that United Active Living is partnering with. Each partnership provides opportunities for residents to experience small, intimate concerts within their communities, and to attend outside performances.

Jillian Bonner, a mezzo-soprano said it’s important to give concerts within the community. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to step away from our regular schedule and sing for the community. Being here allows us to perform in a more intimate setting.”

“Having a group like Calgary Opera come into one of our communities provides a unique opportunity for residents to hear the music they love, particularly if they aren’t able to get out as often as they would like,” said United’s music director Jill LaForty. “You can feel the power in their voices that you may not experience fully in a theatre setting. It’s really a special experience.”

Both Daevyd and Jillian agreed that performing in the community is a great way to bring opera to the residents.

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!


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When 23-year-old St. Mary’s University student Danielle (Dani) Dykema heard that United Active Living’s Fish Creek community was looking for a live-in student-in-residence, she put her name forward.

She had lived with her grandparents and volunteered with older adults in the past and thought that her experience would be a nice fit. She was pleasantly surprised when United invited her to spend the semester with them. She moved into one of the suites in August and will stay until May.

The student-in-residence program is unique in that it invites university students from United’s partners – Mount Royal University and St. Mary’s University – to live and learn alongside the older adults in United’s two communities. The first year of the program, United found that lasting connections are developed between the students and the residents. Dani is finding that is certainly the case with her experience at Fish Creek.

Dani counts June and Eric Selgensen as good friends

Dani counts June and Eric Selgensen as good friends

“I was a little nervous when I came here. I wasn’t sure that I’d fit in. I’m so much younger than the residents, but many have welcomed me as a member of the family,” said Dani. “One couple, Eric and June Selgensen, invited me to join their family for Thanksgiving dinner! That was so amazing that they would do that. When I came here, I thought I would be helping the residents, but they’ve been more helpful to me!”

Dani is earning a BA in English, and has applied for a second degree in the Bachelor of Education program. While taking classes five days a week she also volunteers with youth and hosts a program twice a month for residents, called Music with Dani.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was five and its a real pleasure to play for my friends,” said Dani.

“Living here 24-hours-a-day gives me an opportunity to be part of the community and get to know each of the residents and their families,” said Dani. “I often hear amazing stories from the children about how their parents are flourishing.”

Even in the short time Dani has been at Fish Creek, she has seen a marked change in residents when they first arrive.

Dani with new friends Vivian Thomas, Barb Cook and Nina Robinson

Dani with new friends Vivian Thomas, Barb Cook and Nina Robinson

“When people leave their homes, some are a little nervous about coming to a new community. But they do really well here making new friends, plus all of the activities and programs. The art programs are really interesting. Some residents who have never picked up a paint brush before have discovered they have a real talent.”

Dani agrees that older adults thinking of moving should make the decision early rather than waiting until they need to make a decision. “Some think that they will lose their independence but really, their choices increase, and there are so many programs and events to get involved in.

“These are lovely people. I really don’t want to leave in May. But one thing’s for certain. I’ll come back often to visit. After all, how can I leave my friends?”

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!


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Duane Bratt has had a lifelong interested in politics thanks to his parents, and to this day when he visits the family home the TV is tuned to the news channel. Duane, who is a professor of political science at Mount Royal University (MRU), enjoys bringing his knowledge of politics to the residents of United’s two communities.

Duane Bratt responds to a resident's question

Duane Bratt responds to a resident’s question

“The partnership that exists between MRU and United is all about bringing education and knowledge to the residents,” said Duane. “I really enjoy my visits with them. They are very engaged and knowledgeable about current events, not only about what’s going on in Calgary but around the world. And the questions they ask are very insightful!”

In Thursday’s session at United’s Fish Creek community, topics included the issues involved in the upcoming civic election – funding for the Olympics, taxes and the economy and public art – NAFTA trade talks, pipelines, North Korea and the status of Calgary’s ring road.

Duane Bratt listens to a Fish Creek resident after the session

Duane Bratt listens to a Fish Creek resident after the session

“Seniors are definitely not disengaged when it comes to politics. Look at any political party, civic or community group and it’s the older adults who make up the bulk of the volunteers,” said Duane. “They have the time to devote, but they are also very interested in what’s going on in the world around them.”

Duane pointed out that older residents are enjoying better health resulting in longer life expectancy. Sixty-five is no longer “old age” with many older adults going back to school or getting involved in politics and other activities.

Residents found the discussion with Duane very rewarding. “It was very informative,” said resident Gordon Schnell. “We know in broad terms about the subjects but he provided us with a lot more detail so we can better understand the issues. These kinds of talks are some of the best things about living at United.”

Resident Inger Copland agreed. “I thought it was wonderful. I’m originally from Europe so I’m very interested in what’s happening around the world. We’ve had several discussions [with musical and educational experts] recently at Fish Creek and it’s one of the things that makes living here very interesting.”

United’s partnerships with eight arts, cultural and educational organizations continues this fall with Duane Bratt speaking with residents of United’s Garrison Green community later this month. In October, the MRU partnership will broaden residents’ musical horizons with an in-depth discussion about the life and work of musician Miles Davis.

For a complete listing of events and activities, view or download the Garrison Green community fall program guide.

View or download the Fish Creek community fall program guide.

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!