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Just Imagine

THIS IS THE LIFE Serving Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows since 1978

THE NEWS

2014

Seniors


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Seniors Network keeps seniors issues on the front burner

Garden volunteer Dick Guedes teaches children about how to grow vegetables at the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meaows-Katzie Senior's Network Intergenerational Garden.

Where do seniors go when they need advice or assistance with a particular problem? By Robert Prince

A fun project the network was involved with was the intergenerational garden at 121st Avenue and Edge Street. It had students from nearby St. Patrick’s School and Eric Langton elementary school join with volunteer seniors to make a garden grow. The seniors taught the children all about growing things, thereby passing on their wisdom, and the kids kept the seniors hopping with their many questions and abundant energy. “We take our cues from the community; they tell us what’s important.” – Heather Treleavan "It was an enjoyable project", says Heather. Another intergenerational project currently ongoing is the Grand Buddies program, which pairs elderly volunteers with students who need mentoring. Whether it’s schoolwork, small projects or just some life skills, the program is successful because the kids often have poor home situations and they often just need someone to talk to about their problems. “We’ve had some great successes with this program,” Heather says proudly. Another seniors network project is the Seniors Resource Guide, hugely popular with seniors and non-seniors alike locally. It is full of information about who to turn to for information about a wide range of subjects pertinent to seniors needs. "The goal of the SN", says Heather," "is to create better connections in all areas of seniors’ lives." The assistance is provided not only to seniors, but also to those who care for them, whether families or caregivers. It’s been a great success, and as long as there’s funding, she expects the good work will continue for years to come.

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Who advocates on their behalf to government and other agencies? Who keeps seniors issues at the forefront of community planning? Well, in our communities, it’s the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network, a United Way-funded group of local service agencies, private companies and government agencies that has been working to champion seniors issues here since 2008. Seniors Network coordinator Heather Treleavan has been with the group since its inception, and as her title indicates, has been coordinating a wide range of events, activities and actions since the network became one of 10 operating in communities throughout the Lower Mainland under the auspices of the United Way. The network is very busy these days because there are many issues that seniors need help with locally, says Heather. Among those being tackled is a housing planning table, which is working on a seniors housing task force to help determine the holes in our local housing situation for the elderly. “We want to hold a seniors’ dialogue this fall so we can do our best to prevent homelessness amongst seniors,” she adds. "Transportation issues are never-ending", Heather says. The Seniors Network has previously met with top executives at Translink, for instance, to discuss how better to coordinate community-based volunteer driving services with HandyDART services.

Colleen Flanagan|THE NEWS


Sports a great way for seniors to stay active and healthy

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May Johnson, left, organizes pickleball at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre with the help of Michelle (Taz) Johnson, right. Colleen Flanagan|THE NEWS

If you want to stay healthy in mind and body, the best way to do so is by staying active. By Robert Prince

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“Research evidence indicates the crucial role of physical activity and exercise as an effective strategy for successful aging and good health,” according to a Dr. Liza Stathokostas of the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging. “Indeed, perhaps in no other segment of the Canadian population is the role of exercise in the promotion of health more applicable than for older adults.” It’s a point you won’t have to argue too strenuously to convince either Dave Rodway or Darrell Winterlik, both seniors who know the value of exercise and activity through the fun of sport. Dave is a life-long baseball enthusiast who started playing when he was six or seven years old. Today, in his sixties, he plays slo-pitch with other Maple Ridge residents in the Lower Mainland Seniors Softball League. He started about five years ago, and even though he suffered a heart attack three years ago, he’s back playing with his friends because he knows it’s the best way to mend. “After I had the heart attack I didn’t think I’d play again, but I’m back pitching and umping, and if I bat I have a pinch runner, though I’m just waiting for the doctor to give the okay to run again.” The Maple Ridge resident says the emphasis in the seniors slo-pitch league is on having fun and staying active. It’s a very social activity, with games played twice a week from April through June in several Lower Mainland communities. “You get to meet a lot of nice people, and the only real Continued to page 5


Continued from page 4 - Sports a great way

Pickleball is open to anyone over the age of eight.

Colleen Flanagan|THE NEWS

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requirement is that you can catch a ball [so you don’t get hurt].” He notes the oldest player in the league is about 87, which just goes to show that anyone who feels up to it can take part. Darrell Winterlik also values the use of sport in staying fit and active. At 70 years of age, he is a regular curler with the Haney Masters League, which starts up in October. It’s a fun league for senior men who want to share some laughs and curling. There is no comparable women’s league because too few female players are available, but Darrell says there are several different leagues for men, women and mixed play. The Haney Masters League welcomes all skill levels amongst those 55 and up. It’s not overly competitive and pretty reasonable expense-wise. “We have a wide range of ages playing, including a few in their eighties,” the Pitt Meadows curler offers. “A lot of it is about developing friendships and just having fun. “Anyone who’s too competitive doesn’t usually last long because they get too frustrated,” he adds with a laugh. This kind of curling isn’t too physically demanding, Darrell admits, but it does keep the 60 or so people who participate active, which contributes to keeping them healthy. There are plenty of sports for seniors to participate in locally, including lawn bowling, swimming, a variety of team sports, tennis, and pretty much any sport someone can think of, including something called “pickleball.” Pickleball can best be described as a cross between tennis, badminton and ping-pong, says Vanessa Watkins, a health and wellness program assistant with Ridge Meadows Parks and Leisure Services. It’s played on a badminton-sized court with a low net (like tennis), using a wiffleball and what can best be described as an over-sized ping-pong paddle. “It’s growing really, really fast,” says Vanessa. Parks and Leisure Services just started offering weekly programs last fall in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and dozens of players are regulars now. There are outdoor courts at Garibaldi secondary school as well. “People like it because it’s pretty easy to pick up, it doesn’t require a lot of skill, and because it keeps them active without being too strenuous,” Vanessa adds. It’s not a sport just for seniors, but most of the local players happen to be seniors who like to play doubles because it’s more social, and because “one-on-one is just too much work.” For those interested in learning more about seniors slo-pitch, call Dave at 604-467-3069. For curling, call Bob Asher at 604-466-4286. For pickleball, call Vanessa at 604-467-7432

ADDING LIFE TO YOUR YEARS


Representation Agreements let you maintain control through mental incapacity Of all the things a person has to deal with as they age, mental incompetency might well be the most significant concern.

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By Robert Prince Nobody likes to think about a time when their mental faculties could be impaired by illness, disease or old age, but it’s a question lawyers like Laurence Anderson of the Vernon and Thompson Law Group have to deal with regularly on behalf of clients. The Will, the Power of Attorney, and the Representation Agreement are the 'Big 3' when it comes to planning one’s final years. The will covers what happens after you die, the power of attorney covers what happens to your money if you’re deemed mentally incompetent, and the representation agreement is there to inform medical practitioners as to who will make medical decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself. Of the three, the representation agreement is probably the least understood, says Anderson, possibly because it’s a relatively new kind of document that most people haven’t had to contemplate yet. But that is changing as people live longer, thereby increasing the likelihood of some form of mental incapacity in their life. “More people have them (representation agreements) now than people did 10 years ago,” Anderson states, “but even still, most people don’t have one in place, primarily because they don’t want to spend the money.” A typical representation agreement is about 12 pages long (compared to a power of attorney document, which runs about three or four pages) and costs about $400, says Anderson. Most people have a vague understanding of what used to be called a “living will,” says Anderson. The “living will” was a document people put together most often to cover situations in which a person was on life support, and what should happen in such a situation. However, the “living will” was not supported in law until 2001, when the law was changed to catch up with what was happening in the real world. Since then, the “living will” has been known as a representation agreement. The latter is designed to give instructions about who will make medical decisions on your behalf in case of mental incapacity, as well as what kinds of decisions that person is allowed to make, and when. It can also include decisions about personal care and routine management of financial affairs, though major financial decisions such as the sale of real estate, incurring loans, etc. must be covered in a power of attorney agreement.

Lawyer Laurence (Laurie) Anderson says an important step in planning for the possibility of being incapacitated is appointing someone to make decisions about your personal care and health care. Colleen Flanagan|THE NEWS

The Representation Agreement Act of B.C. requires that a medical professional determine whether a person has an RA in place before providing any medical services, emergencies excepted. Anderson says the act itself provides a standard set of instructions that applies to all British Columbians unless an RA is in place to override the act’s provisions. Most people, he adds, are content to let the act’s regulations determine what happens. But in some cases people want something different for their own reasons. “For instance, a Jehovah’s Witness might have an RA drawn up to prevent blood transfusions, which is against their religion,” he says. “More typically, an RA would be used to determine what happens when someone is on life support.” In addition, people will have an RA drawn up if they don’t want the people on the standard list of representatives to have control of their life. The standard list starts with the person’s spouse, then the children, parents, and so forth. The advantage of an RA, says Anderson, is that it takes the burden off of your family when it comes time to making such life and death decisions. In effect, you’re maintaining control of your life in spite of your situation. For those who aren’t picky about who is calling the shots in the case of mental incapacity, the RA has a cousin, the advance directive, which can be drawn up to cover specific medical situations only while leaving the general details for the act and medical professionals to determine. They’re not used very often, but they’re available, says Anderson. It’s important, he adds, for people to understand that the power of attorney and the RA are two different documents that can co-exist, but which relate to different aspects of a person’s life.


It’s never too late to make music When Dian Murrell was a young woman back in the mid-60s, like so many of her generation she picked up a guitar and tried to learn the folk songs that were popular during that era. By Robert Prince

Dian Murrell, holding guitar, and Judith Bergthorson, owner of Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts. Colleen Flanagan|THE NEWS

She’d pluck the strings of an old guitar in a shabby apartment, and sing Joan Baez or Ian Tyson songs, and though she says she wasn’t very good, still she loved both the playing and the singing. And then life caught up with her. Work, a marriage and a family became more important, and the guitar was consigned to a closet. Even the singing was curtailed as those around her made it abundantly clear they didn’t think she could hold a tune. Besides playing a few kids’ songs with her grandchildren from time to time, the music was repressed, and many years passed before one day, a couple of years after Dian

retired from being an IT manager, a girlfriend convinced her that her habit of switching keys while singing could be trained out of her, and that if she really wanted to sing, she could learn the techniques to make her sound good. “I’ve always loved music,” says the 68-yearold Maple Ridge resident. “I didn’t keep it up because of life, but somewhere inside I always wanted to go back to it.” Continued to page 8

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8 – This is the Life, 2014

After the chat with her girlfriend, Dian visited the Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts and discovered that the school’s vocal coach thought she had potential, so she signed up to take vocal lessons. It was intimidating, to say the least, but Dian persevered, and after a couple of years of singing she broke out her six-string and began taking guitar lessons. That was three years ago, and today she’s having a ball, singing and playing the folk songs she loves, participating in school recitals, and even writing and singing her own songs. “It’s wonderful,” Dian enthuses, “I think music is really good for you; anything that makes you smile is good for you.” Dian says the benefits of taking up music again are manifold. She’s made some really good new friends through the music school, including her guitar instructor, Eduardo. She is pretty certain the budding arthritis in her hands is being kept at bay largely because her fingers are always active. Even the breathing exercises she’s taken up for her singing have helped push back the early stages of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – a legacy of her days as a smoker. “I think my half hour with Eduardo each week is the best half of the week for me,” she states. “I call him ‘Dr. Edu’ because it’s very cathartic [being there].” Judith Bergthorson, owner of the Academy, says many of the benefits Dian describes are quite common for older people who take up music later in life, or who return to it after a long absence.

A big plus, she says, is the psychological benefit seniors get from their achievements when they take up music. “Many [seniors] are afraid it’s too late [to take up music], and they have a fear of failure,” she says. “So many have been told they can’t sing, or can’t play, that they’re afraid to try. I think the psychological aspect is the biggest hang-up that stops people from taking part.” The beauty of it is that once they get their foot in the door, most people – young or old – find the sense of accomplishment quickly overcomes the fear. “I’m a firm believer that success breeds success, and success spreads to other parts of your life. Besides, music brings joy to people.” Judith relates the story of one student, in his seventies, who has back pain that makes it hard for him to play his clarinet, and yet she can see in his face every time he plays that the music supersedes his physical limitations, and brings joy to his life. “I think music helps people [of all ages] to open up, and to be more of who they really are.” Dian concurs, adding that music has helped her give herself permission to relax. Having more time as a retiree gave her the opportunity to play again, but giving herself permission to slow down meant she could pursue the passion she’s always had for her folk songs. There are lots of opportunities for seniors to add music to their life in this community, says Judith. Music schools, various bands, and choral groups are just some of the options, so there’s no excuse for anyone who wants to be involved, and who’s willing to overcome their fears.

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Great shows, great opportunities at the act for seniors No matter one’s age, the arts speak to each of us in different ways. For some it’s music, for others it’s theatre, for others it is dance or the visual arts that speak loudest. In some cases, sitting in as spectators is enough, while others choose a more “hands on” approach. No matter how you decide to satisfy your creative bent, chances are The Arts Centre and Theatre offers programs that will inspire and please. During its 10 years of operation, The ACT has become one of the key hubs of activity for seniors in Maple Ridge. It hosts shows that appeal to all ages, but seniors in particular can always find an eclectic mix of arts, theatre, music and dance that appeals to their sensibilities. Karen Pighin, communications manager for The ACT, says there is no specific mandate to provide programming specific to seniors, but the goal is always to look for shows that appeal to different demographics - and seniors are a key demographic. Pighin notes the Maple Ridge Art Gallery, which is located in the same building, also has ongoing art exhibitions that include painting, mixed media, sculpture, fabric arts, plus a whole lot more. If you’re more of a “hands-on” kind of participant, there are many programs offered through the Maple Ridge Arts Council that will appeal to seniors.

“We have a lot of adult programs that will appeal to seniors for sure,” says Pighin. She adds that there is no senior-specific programming, but notes that many of the classes that are offered in pottery, drawing, painting and other arts and crafts are usually well attended by seniors looking to keep active, and to be creative. There is another way that seniors are active at The ACT, and that is through the centre’s volunteer program. Event coordinator Landrie Davies says are an integral part of volunteer activities at The ACT. “They’re looking to give back to the community,” Landrie offers. “They have time, or they make time, for this important contribution. They are definitely a very valuable asset to The ACT.” She notes many of the seniors become very active as volunteers, and become good friends with each other. They work the events together, but they also take part in other ACT activities together, such as monthly socials. “We have a wonderful group of seniors [volunteering here],” says Pighin. “They’re very knowledgeable, very involved, and very appreciated.” • Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the website or call 604-476-2787.

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Bettering life for seniors at home For many seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, life is better at home. By Kevin Gillies This is the fundamental belief behind the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services program “Better At Home,” which helps enable geographically and socially isolated seniors to function at their optimum level and maintain their independence, while remaining in their own homes as long as possible. The program, an initiative of the B.C. Government and the United Way, started as a pilot project in July 2010, and was known as CASI — Community Action for Seniors Independents. CASI began with five sites and Maple Ridge was the first of the five sites to offer service for seniors. “There was community consultation and feedback from stakeholders as to what services were needed for seniors, says community services program director Joanne Leginus. “A number of key themes came up and that’s how we started, or the community chose our agency to provide those services. We’re in our second year now

10 – This is the Life, 2014

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and we just transitioned to ‘Better At Home.’ “There was a Seniors Action Plan report [prepared] a little while back that they provided additional dollars to the United Way to expand Better At Home to communities across the province,” Leginus explains. According to MRPMCS, the agency’s transportation services help seniors who are living in their own homes and require transportation to medical appointments. “The services that were identified in our community as needed the greatest, and that we’re working on, are transportation for medical appointments,” says Leginus, MRPMCS’s Better At Home program director. “We have a whole team of volunteers that we work with that drives seniors anywhere from locally in our community to into Vancouver, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, to a number of different specialists that they need.” Leginus says it’s not just about the drive to an appointment as much as it’s about accompanying seniors to specialist appointments that they would otherwise attend on their own. “It’s sort of a drive to, but they need to be accompanied to those appointments. That’s one of the busiest parts of our program — probably about 75 per cent of the rides that we provide are outside of our community for those specialists,” she says. “We have a whole team of volunteers that we work with that, drive seniors anywhere from locally in our community into Vancouver, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, to a number of different specialists that they need,” she adds. Seniors interested in using this aspect of the program have to be 65 years or older and reside in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows. They must also be able to get in and out of a volunteer’s vehicle with limited assistance. Eligible individuals must register in the program. Other Better At Home program services include grocery shopping services, friendly visit services and handyperson services. “We also do transportation for grocery shopping and in most cases we encourage and want the seniors to come with the volunteers,” Leginus explains. “But in those cases where they’re unable, we will shop for them.” She said other aspects of the Better At Home program include social visits for seniors who are basically socially isolated and need contact with someone, and general handyperson services for general maintenance but nothing that would require permits. “A lot of seniors are living in their homes at a later age. So it’s just putting non-medical supports in place to support them in their own homes, in their own community,” Leginus says. “That’s the number of services that we provide. The program’s hours of service are Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Liz and Frank never missed a beat… And now they’re ready for the next step. They took their first whirl around the dance floor over 50 years ago and have been kicking up their heels ever since. When they started looking for retirement living options, they were pleased to find out that Chartwell Retirement Residences offers active lifestyle programs like their signature Rhythm & Moves class.

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11 - This is the Life, 2014

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And while they are enjoying a busy lifestyle today, they appreciate the peace of mind in knowing that Chartwell offers flexibility and choice to help with changing care needs in the future. Until that time, they’ll continue to follow where the music leads in their new Chartwell home.


Making sure seniors eat a balanced diet For seniors on a fixed income, the rising cost of living can wreak havoc on a budget. As food prices rise, the costs are passed on to consumers. That often means trouble for someone who can’t keep up with the rising cost of living. Seniors, especially, find themselves having to make sacrifices that can have detrimental affects to their well being. A balanced diet is a critical component of the health and welfare of seniors, reducing the risks of heart disease and stroke, as well as ailments like type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and dementia. In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the fight to help seniors meet their nutritional needs is being led, in part, by Golden Ears FEAST and its Community Kitchen initiative. FEAST is an acronym for “Food Education and Action Strategy Table.” The idea behind FEAST is a collaborative community effort of mostly social service providers, along with local RCMP and the Fraser Health Authority, to identify and act on issues surrounding food in the surrounding community. Candace Gordon is the coordinator for FEAST’s Community Kitchen, where local produce, meats and other products are gathered, in part through donations, and people can come

together to put together affordable meals for themselves, as well as picking up recipes and strategies to make healthy food choices. “The goal is to build people’s self reliance,” says Gordon. For a mere $7, seniors can come once a month to the Community Kitchen, where they have the opportunity to put together between 16 to 20 portions, including soups, vegetables, main courses and desserts, that they can take home. Gordon said they also leave with recipes, so that over time they can build up a repertoire of affordable, nutritious meals they can cook for themselves at home. In Maple Ridge, the program is operated out of the Community Kitchen at Fraserwood, located on 121st Ave., behind Extra Foods. In Pitt Meadows, it’s run out of Heritage Hall at 12460 Harris Road. “It’s really a thrifty way for seniors to budget meals into their fixed incomes.” Just as important, Gordon says the kitchen is a great way for seniors to stay connected within the community. For an aging population whose health relies heavily on a proper diet, the trade off of popping something in the microwave over eating well is hardly worth it, she says. Continued to page 13

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Continued from page 12 - A balanced diet “Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. Simplicity is one of the things we stress here,” notes Gordon. As the food banks in the region continue to see their numbers rise, programs like the Community Kitchen will continue to play a vital role as the aging population continues to increase, she says. FEAST is also working on putting together a seniors food coupon that can be used to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables at the local farmer’s market. The group is actively looking to the community for a sponsor for the initiative.

Gordon is hopeful more programs like the Community Kitchen will take shape and help seniors meet their nutritional needs. “When we can engage more people in our community, everyone benefits. Health costs drop and seniors feel less isolated and more worthwhile. It’s a win-win for everyone.” • For more information on the Community Kitchen, contact Candace Gordon at 604-466-0847 or email ciegordon@gmail.com

Key states • Women who are less active need about 1,600 calories a day and more active women need around 2,000. For men the range is 2,000 for less active people and as much as 2,400 to 2,800 depending on the amount of activity in a day. Here are some nutritional tips to consider. • Key nutrients are essential for the brain to do its job. People who eat a selection of brightly coloured fruit, leafy veggies, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. • Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams. Try for 2 to 2 ½ cups of veggies every day. • Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Seniors need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Nondairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

• Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fibre. If you’re not sure, look for pasta, breads, and cereals that list “whole” in the ingredient list. Seniors need 6-7 ounces of grains each day. • Bad carbohydrates—also known as simple or unhealthy carbs—are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fibre, and nutrients. Bad carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. For longlasting energy and stable insulin levels, choose “good” or complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. • Seniors are prone to dehydration because our bodies lose some of the ability to regulate fluid levels and our sense of thirst is dulled as we age. Post a note in your kitchen reminding you to sip water every hour and with meals to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion.

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Seniors up for the challenge of learning a new language What’s the hardest part about learning another language when you’re a senior? For the group of learners that met weekly last fall at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Centre to learn Spanish, the consensus seems to be simply remembering the words. But that doesn’t mean they’re not up for the challenge. For the past four years, Joanne Montenegro has been tutoring seniors who want to learn Spanish so they can communicate better with the locals when they travel to Mexico and other Latin American countries. The retired special education assistant was helping out at the reception desk of the Seniors Centre, and doing a bit of translation for visitors, when she was asked to take on the role of Spanish teacher. She decided it was a good idea, and so each September for the past four years, Joanne has started a new batch of students on the road to learning a foreign language. “It’s very basic stuff for the most part,” she says. “The course is designed to help travelers with the kinds of things they need to know to survive – how to order a meal, how to find their hotel if they’re lost, how to convert currency so they don’t get ripped off, how to find their lost luggage, and so on.”

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She tries to keep the class capped at 10 students, so she can devote enough time to helping each one. And it's working, she says. "They are really speaking Spanish." She is about to start teaching again in April. Of those signed up, seven are returning students. The group meets for a couple of hours every Thursday. As a speaker of multiple languages herself (German, Dutch, Flemish, English, Afrikaans and Spanish), Joanne understands the challenges people have in learning new languages, especially seniors who often have trouble with memory work. “It’s not about becoming fluent, but about learning enough to get by while having some fun and enjoying the experience,” she says. Part of the program is using her own personal travel experiences to enlighten her students about what to expect while traveling, and how to overcome some obstacles. “We learn, we laugh, we don’t get too serious about proper grammar because that’s hard," Joanne says. "You learn more when you have a happy face and a happy mind than when you’re stressed about grammar.” • The Spanish class will have another intake in September.

Thanks, for building

.

our community and country

MARC DALTON MLA MAPLE RIDGE/MISSION My constituency office is here to assist you with: • Government related issues • Information on government programs • Certifying your copies • Arranging congratulatory messages

marc.dalton.mla@leg.bc.ca Visit Marc’s website @ www.marcdaltonmla.bc.ca www.twitter.com/MarcDaltonMLA

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February 26, 2014  

Section Z of the February 26, 2014 edition of the Maple Ridge News

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