Newcomer seniors program connects to locals

The PEI Association for Newcomers has created a new program to connect newcomer seniors with settled Island seniors. They meet weekly and learn new skills together.

On Wednesday, the group had a games night. It was Javad Bolkhanian's first time playing pool. With the help of his new friends, Bolkhanian and his wife, Fatemeh Ahmadzadeh, are catching on and building relationships.

Ahmadzadeh said the program is a good way to meet people in Charlottetown. “It's very good for new immigrants because they [are] invited to [meet] new friends and people in Charlottetown,” she said.

Most of the newcomers attending Wednesday were from Iran. Along with pool, they're learning backgammon and crokinole.

The idea is to establish connections for older newcomers, to help them adapt to life on the Island.

The newcomers association is targeting seniors because immigration can often be more difficult for them, said Yvette Doucette, an information officer with the non-profit.

“They might be a little more isolated and not have as many opportunities for integration as younger newcomers would,” she said.

Most of the games need to be explained. Still, those in attendance said the language isn't a big barrier.

Senior David Schneider said body language and non-verbal communication goes a long way. “It's almost like charades and that gives everyone a chance to laugh about the various things,” he said.

The group meets twice a week until June and will have activities ranging from photography to line dancing. The group is still accepting participants.

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