Since March most of Manitoba has been staying at home. During that time a group of PAL (55+) members has been busy working on activities with the safety of the membership of utmost importance.
We started with initiating online meetings which allowed our Committees and Board to meet safely. We implemented a Phone PALs program where volunteers connected with our members and found out how people were doing.
As the summer approached and the restrictions were eased, we reviewed our summer programs and decided that outdoor programs could run, with participants keeping social distance and/or wearing masks. Golf, cycling, hiking/walking, urban poling and Yoga began and will continue into the fall. We also offered several online presentations (cooking and skin/hair care classes) and an online Tai Chi class was organised.
With the fall approaching we had two issues. We could not even consider having our Annual Community Picnic and Membership Drive where several hundred people would join and register for programs. We knew that, while people really wanted to get together and enjoy programs, we still had to follow the guidelines laid down by the provincial government and the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres.
So, our Membership Drive went online. We set up the Membership Application and Program Registration forms on our website and set up to handle all forms via email or Canada Post. For the first time we are offering two payment options: e-transfer and cheque. Although the setup and communication took time, the process is working.
Then we reviewed programs. We moved or added programs online. Our expectation was that some programs would be online, some would be in-person and some a mix of the two. We measured our available space and determined a maximum attendance at in-person programs (based on the guidance that we provide 10 square meters per person). But we hit a snag when the facility we use for exercise programs was not going to be available to us in September. With that information, we reviewed our programs and moved programs online. The remainder were cancelled until such time as we can offer them in-person.
The committee is constantly reviewing the Schedule and as soon as possible we will move to more in-person classes and resume other programming. We know how important interaction is and wish that we could move this along faster.
Making Connections is a PAL (55+) initiative funded by a New Horizons for Seniors grant. With the reality of COVID-19, many of the scheduled programs had to be reimagined. In the fall online virtual diversity and inclusiveness presentations will be offered. In addition, 2020-2021 members are being offered a gift card to a local ethnic restaurant where they can sample a cuisine new to them. Our original plan was to provide the opportunity to sample foods at the Annual Community Picnic. This is the best alternative.
To join PAL, to register for programs or to join an enthusiastic group of volunteers, visit our website at www.pal55plus.ca, contact the office at 204-946-0839 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to meeting some new PAL (55+) members.
COVID-19 Planning Sub-Committee
Pembina Active Living (55+)