TEMAGAMI - Through a Ministry of Ontario Seniors Community Grant, Living Temagami – Arts and Culture is offering the community free digital programming for seniors throughout March and April.
The main purpose of the program is to “highlight senior artists and engage seniors and elders with interesting digital programming during the pandemic,” explained Living Temagami – Arts and Culture artistic director Chandel Gambles.
“Although many may have had an opportunity to explore digital tools during this pandemic, not everyone is comfortable with new technology and online programs,” she said in an email message to The Speaker.
“With everyone spending more time at home this year, many members of our community will feel isolated and disconnected with their families, friends, and community supporters. This emotion is often exacerbated for those who are not familiar with new digital technologies available to them. This winter, together, we will help break down communication barriers in our region by inviting everyone to share their skills and knowledge.”
Gambles explained that the grant funding will specifically go back into the hands of the community’s artists, creators, and wellness workers to provide the regional community with programming that is accessible for everyone.
Throughout March and April, Living Temagami is hosting over 25 free arts workshops, performances, and wellness sessions in which everyone can participate.
With the support of the Municipality of Temagami, Gambles said some of the April events may even take place in-person at COVID-safe outdoor and indoor community spaces, depending on health and safety restrictions at that time.
“Not only are the events free, but we also have free art supplies and workshop kits available for our hands-on digital arts workshops, for those who may not have art supplies at home,” she noted.
“We look forward to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the fun.”
Each event will link to one of five focuses, including seniors’ digital concerns, health and wellness, intergenerational learning, sharing and mentorship, First Nations culture and skill sharing, professional arts and culture performances and arts, crafts and culture workshops.
Gambles said that some of Living Temagami’s free programming planned for Zoom technology and Facebook Live this month includes the Northern Voices Professional Play Reading series this week and next.
“This includes family friendly shows next week, co-presented with Pied Piper Kidshows,” she said.
Other events on tap this month include Jerry the Majicman – a magic show and magic workshop co-presented with Temiskaming Art Gallery’s Open Studio Libre, a free music performance by Wayne Potts through the Raven’s Nest series, Girl’s Night Out Goes Virtual- a music event hosted by Mary Laronde, a writing workshop with northern professional playwright Matthew Heiti, and a number of free art drawing, painting, cellphone photography, and traditional craft workshops.
As well, in honour of Women’s History Month, Living Temagami also will host a pre-International Women’s Day online event on March 7, to align with celebrations for women all around the world.
“We also encourage folks to connect with a number of other amazing community offerings, like the Cyber Seniors hotline at 1-844-217-3057, to receive free digital tech support through one-on-one mentorships,” said Gambles.
“The volunteer digital mentors will happily help seniors setup video calls with friends and attend digital community events. We also hope folks will enjoy the free Senior Centre Without Walls program at this time, which has over-the-phone social activities for those without internet access.”
Gambles added that in unison with the support of many local and regional organizations, Living Temagami is working to bring joy, art, and community back into everyone’s homes during an unprecedented time in history.
“We hope those of all ages will join us online over the coming months,” she said.
For more information on Living Temagami’s free seniors digital programming, you can check out their Facebook page.
To get involved as a volunteer or workshop presenter, or to receive some technical assistance to help you attend the free online events, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-650-1191.
Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker