Infotainment for Retirees Kingston U3A Featured

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How much richer the prospect of retirement would have been if I had been aware of the existence within my own suburb, of the University of the Third Age-more popularly called-U3A.

U3A is an international organisation founded in France, in 1973 in conjunction with the University of Toulouse, to provide education and stimulation for retirees - folks in the third stage of their lives.
By the time the organisation became established in the United Kingdom, the university association had been replaced with a self-help focus, based on the recognition that retired people have a lifetime of valuable experience and knowledge. The first U3A in Australia began in Melbourne in 1984.
Today there are over 100 Victorian U3As. They are located wherever a group of people get together, usually with the help of their local Council, and decide that their community has enough volunteers to run worthwhile activities and a community of retirees eager to participate.

Our suburb of Kingston has such a jewel nestled in the heart of Mordialloc. Tracing its beginnings to the Youth Resources Centre in Parkdale in 1993, Kingston U3A has grown in leaps and bounds. Currently its 600+ members take part in 55 different classes over the course of a year. In addition, many short courses are offered.
Thanks to the support of the Kingston Council, our U3A operates out of the old court house in Albert Street Mordialloc. Being close to the Mordialloc station, it is easily accessible to those relying on public transport. While the hub of the organisation, with classrooms, office and kitchen facilities, is located here, activities also take place in the adjacent Alan McLean hall, Lewis House behind the main building, and, to cater for the greater Kingston area, Dingley and Chelsea, also have facilities that host classes.

For many years I was an active participant in the paid workforce. Once I hit the magical 60 years of age family and friends began ever so gently hinting at retirement. Inevitably my imagination deserted me as I could not conjure up anywhere near enough activities to fill my days. In my mind I was still active, far from the scrap heap.

Recently I had the pleasure to chat with Patricia Rice who currently has the complex role of programming. When I asked her about the benefits she had gained from membership she recalled the early years of her retirement when it would have been so easy to become isolated within her own home. Instead of relying on the check-out girls for conversation, she enrolled in several classes. She could not speak highly enough of the welcome she received. Members were friendly and were definitely instrumental in easing her transition from full time wage slave to active retiree.

A glance at Kingston U3A’s website reveals that the courses, aligned to the terms of the school year, cover a wide range of pursuits. For those with intellectual cravings, language studies are on offer, including French and Italian. Those seeking to stimulate their grey matter with a less taxing pursuit have the games of cryptic crosswords, mahjong, bridge, scrabble and rummikub. Many people have an artistic bent which has often been stifled due to practical commitments.kingston u3a 2
Hence groups such as Drawing, Painting, Craft, Marquetry, Photography, and Choral Singing offer a creative outlet. The physical dimension of life is well catered for with Line Dancing, Exercise to Music, Yoga, Table Tennis, Tai Chi and Walking. And then members can choose to expand their knowledge by enrolling in Genealogy, Poetry Appreciation, Current Affairs, Social Studies, Book Discussion, Philosophy and Writing for Pleasure. Pure indulgence is the motivation behind the various Dine out groups, while Meditation is good for body and soul.

U3A is 100% volunteer. Tutors volunteer their expertise working hard to produce interesting, accessible programs. An active volunteer committee steers the organisation, undertaking the many administrative roles included office duties, producing regular newsletters, developing the program, budgeting etc.

For the reasonable fee of $40 a single or $70 a couple, one can purchase an annual membership. Some classes then attract a small contribution, where qualified instructors are used, but the majority are free. Prospective members can visit the website www.u3akingston.com.au for more details and are able to try anything of interest before actually joining.

At a time when the Australian Bureau of Statistics warns us that the fastest growing age group within Australia is the 65+ group, we are lucky within Kingston to have this resource. While in 2015 the over 65ers constituted 16% of the population and by 2050 this will have grown to 25-29%.

Kingston U3A is well placed to meet this challenge, ensuring that as we sail into retirement, enrichment, challenge and companionship are ours for the taking- courtesy of Kingston U3A.

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