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Affirmation

Art channel

“When you run a seniors’ club, you have to be a bit of a doctor, a bit of a friend, and a bit of a confidant”

A few years ago, when I visited a seniors’ club for the first time, I was at the same time surprised and moved. There was not a single empty seat at a long table arranged in a horseshoe. The whole room was filled with a buzz of conversation and clinking of teacups. On that day I was reminded that the need for entertainment, social gatherings and hanging out with peers does not pass with age. Seniors’ clubs are often hidden in the corners of the housing estates. They are located in the basements of the blocks of flats, or in the rooms rented from schools. Sometimes they are located at the parish or in the local initiatives centre. What is important is that the clubs are never too far from home and it is easy for senior citizens to reach them.

Every seniors’ club has a leader, either a man or a woman – however, it is worth mentioning that this role is usually taken by women. It can be said that the leaders are also the clubs’ animators, because, apart from taking care of the organisational matters, they also listen to their friends’ voices so that they can organize cultural events together – for example, bridge tournaments, trips, or all kinds of art workshops and thematic meetings. Besides, they represent the clubs in the outside world, they seek to raise money, and establish relationships with other entities, such as institutions, non-governmental organisations, or other seniors’ clubs in Poznań.

When the educators and animators say that relationship building is the most important part of their job, I often think about the seniors’the seniorscatorsabout their work carried out quietly, which is what that work is all about. Bearing this in mind, I’d like to introduce some of them. One of them is Magdalena Kowalska, a seniors’ animator, whom I had the pleasure to work with at the Seniors Initiatives Centre; her work is based mainly on supporting clubs, so she could not be omitted.

Aleksandra Woźniak

Aleksandra Woźniak
Klub Seniora “Promyk” [The “Sunbeam” Seniors’ Club]

Location:
The club is located in Poznań in the Grunwald Północ neighbourhood. It has been operating since March 2019.

Motto:
“The Sunbeam Girls”

Activities:
The club’s meetings take place every Wednesday at 3 p.m. We do different craft activities; for example, we prepare holiday decorations, such as angels, bunnies and All Saints’ Day wreaths. We also create paper flowers, brooches, and decoupage boxes. Moreover, we participate in classes held by a psychologist in order to practice our memory. We also organise special events to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, and so on – we meet for coffee and sweets.

Dreams:
Our dream is to relocate the club from the school to the office of the Grunwald Północ Council [Rada Osiedla Grunwald Północ], for then more seniors would be able to participate in our meetings – there are no stairs and it is much more accessible. We also want to expand our activity and organise different interesting meetings.

***

Barbara Jenczmionka
Stowarzyszenie Złoty Klub Seniora [The Golden Seniors’ Club Association]

Location:
The club is located in the Łazarz district in the area of allotment gardens. It has been operating since October 23, 2018.

Motto:
“You will never be bored with us”

Activities:
We meet at least three times a month or more often, depending on our needs. The meetings are of various nature. We discuss information from the “Tytka Seniora” [Seniors’ Paper Cone] magazine supplement and organise meetings about different topics, which are led by our guests. We also organise darts tournaments – only within our own club for now, but we hope to compete with other clubs in the future. We play board games, go to the cinema and work together on the club’s projects. Every year we go to the seaside for a week as a group.

Dreams:
Our dream is to buy a projector. We are planning to go sightseeing around Wielkopolska, to explore places which we have not seen yet.

Barbara Jenczmionka

Ewa Rakowska-Śmiglewska

Ewa Rakowska-Śmiglewska
Klub Seniora “82” [The “82” Seniors’ Club]

Location:
The club is located at Krakowska 10. It has been operating for eleven years.

Motto:
The club is sensitive to seniors’ needs – we try to make dreams come true.

Activities:
The club’s meetings take place every day from Monday to Thursday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The classes at the swimming pool take place twice a week. The seniors organise coffee meetings, often with very interesting people. They have recently hosted Hirek Wrona – a well-known music journalist, and Jacek Jędrzejak – a vocalist of the Big Cyc band. The seniors do different types of physical exercise, including Nordic walking. The club has over thirty members, but it remembers about all seniors in Poznań. The open poetry competition “My beautiful moments” [Moje piękne chwile] has just been announced. Organising trips is the club’s speciality. The seniors have already visited Croatia, Spain, Italy, and beautiful Polish regions – they have been in Bieszczady Mountains, Zakopane, Masuria, and Lublin Province [Lubelszczyzna]. In summer, they go to Rewal, Dziwnów and Sianożęty. They are planning to go at the world rose festival in September. The club has its own meeting room, mini-gym and wonderful library. 

Dreams:
Our dream is to be healthy, self-reliant, cheerful, and helpful to those who need us, for as long as possible. We want to enjoy our healthy families and continue to meet in the club for a very long time. A few seniors dream of flying in a plane – well, maybe they will?

***

Ewa Zawieja
Klub Seniora Górczyn [The Górczyn Seniors’ Club]

Location:
The club was founded at the end of 2017 in the Grunwald district.

Motto:
A life lived for others is a life worth living. I love to help other people, it makes me feel fulfilled and happy, and it gives meaning to my life.

Activities:
We meet twice a month and, additionally, we attend rehabilitation sessions every Tuesday. During this short period of time since the club was established, we have actively participated in numerous charity events, such as: support for children with autism, a fundraiser for a hospice, charity tournaments, a Mother’s Day celebration for seniors in a nursing home. In October 2019, we took part in a two-day computer training in Dębogóra. We went to Dźwirzyno in August. Recreational trips allow us to change our lifestyles. The seniors also like to go to the cinema, theatre, opera or a concert.

Dreams:
One-day trips and other leisure activities. Our plans involve the following: computer trainings, recreational trips with other seniors’ clubs, further socialising as a way to fight loneliness.

Ewa Zawieja

Magdalena Bobrowska

Magdalena Borkowska
Dom Sąsiedzki Dębiec Klub Seniora 50+ [The Dębiec Community Centre 50+ Seniors’ Club]

Location:
The club is located in the Community Centre [Dom Sąsiedzki] at Bukowa 2a, the entrance from Kasztanowa Street. We have been operating in the Dębiec district since 2019. 

Motto:
To run a seniors’ club, you have to be a bit of a doctor, a bit of a friend, and a bit of a confidant. 

Activities:
Until recently, the club’s meetings took place twice a month. Our meetings are always theme-based. Last year, a dietitian who is a friend of mine prepared a lecture called “Healthy diets for seniors.” I am a cosmetologist myself and I have held a workshop on home-made and natural cosmetics. I have also organised a meeting about disappearing jobs, during which we got to know the profession of a modiste, that is a woman who makes hats. So far, we have had meetings about such topics as, among others: creativity at every age, 50+ fashion or how to choose accessories, and social media for seniors. I have a very fond memory of the meeting called “Smells of my childhood.” I have asked everyone to bring a fraction of something they remember from those years, and many people accepted the invitation – one person made a cake, another brought some pasties, and it was really nice.

Dreams:
We do not know what we will be able to do when we get back to a relatively normal way of functioning, but I would like to organise tours around Poznań, for example to a museum, the Arsenal Gallery, forgotten cemeteries. I dream of exploring the topics which met with a positive response, for example a poetry series or a culinary series about aphrodisiacs – I already have a title: “Wooed by food.” And I want us to meet more often.

***

Wiesława Pukacka
Stowarzyszenie Radość Życia [The Joy of Life Association]

Location:
We have been operating in entire Poznań since April 2019.

Motto:
“Let’s enjoy life, love people, and not forget about ourselves…”

Activities:
When I meet with my friends who do serious things, struggle with many problems, save people from misery and oppression, I often emphasise that I feel very little around them. In my case, and I am very honest about it, I simply indulge seniors’ “whims.” The people I gather around myself (mostly ladies, of course) lead relatively good lives; they are active and optimistic, but they want their lives to be more interesting. Not all of them are in perfect health, but they try to bravely overcome difficulties; the obstacles to their ambitious plans are usually linked to financial and organisational issues, as well as to some seniors’ difficulties in using a computer, and so on. The purpose of the association is to help them to overcome these obstacles. I am still learning how to obtain financial grants; I have been trying to get them, but, of course, it is not always successful. So far, we have managed to organise fitness and dance classes in the Piątkowo district, and a mini rubber bridge tournament. This year, we have already got the funds needed to continue the dance and fitness classes, and now we wait for the possibility to attend them again. The bridge project, which was our big success, attracted our bridge-loving senior friends from many districts in Poznań. Our activity is small-scale, we organise events for 6-12 people. From what I have observed and experienced as a senior, only such small meetings work for us – after all, we have these different problems: with sight, hearing, mobility; we need to be close together and have a clear view of everyone.

Dreams:
We have a lot of plans and goals, and we have been carefully watching all competitions in order to obtain funds. One of my dreams is to organise an exhibition of the paintings created by our senior friend; so far, we have failed (twice) to collect funds.

Wiesława Pukacka

Zdzisława Tolińska

Zdzisława Tolińska
Klub Seniora „Bajka” [“Tale” Seniors’ Club]

Location:
The club has been active at the “Eagle’s Nest” Community Centre, on the “Lech” Housing Estate [Osiedle Lecha], for six years. 

Motto:
“Our tale’s lesson is, your age doesn’t matter when you’re in good mood,
you’ll dance and sing here with friends in this neighbourhood”

Activities:
Our club doesn’t only promote culture and art. Our work comes down primarily to motivating senior citizens to spend leisure time together. We meet once a week, on Mondays. Our meetings are planned according to a schedule. We invite guests, attend lectures and go out together, for example to a cinema, theatre, palm house, or to thermal baths “Termy Maltańskie”, near Lake Malta. We visit our befriended kindergartens and watch the kids’ plays. We hold art workshops. We organize Easter breakfasts, Christmas parties, tea dances, and costume parties. Dancing and singing are our favourite pastimes.

Dreams:
Our plans for the future include organizing an integration trip. And our dream is to meet more frequently, because “Tale” Seniors’ Club is a vibrant place, full of joy and friendliness. 

Magdalena Kowalska

Magdalena Kowalska
an organiser of activities for seniors

Location:
I work in the Centre for Senior Citizens Initiatives on Mielżyńskiego Street, but I visit seniors’ clubs in all districts in Poznań. 

Motto:
In my every-day work, I am inspired by current challenges. I focus on attentiveness and I always set myself up for a deep and honest relationship with another person or group.

Activities:
I support the clubs with my knowledge; I try to motivate them to develop and overcome difficulties, but I also focus on promoting their activity. When cooperating with the seniors’ clubs in Poznań, I always try to work in an inclusive and interactive way. Apart from cooperating with the clubs, I also work with the institutions that are sensitive to the needs of elderly people, such as the academic community and non-governmental organisations. Recently, as an organiser of activities for seniors, I have had an opportunity to co-create special projects: The Leaders’ Academy [Akademia Liderów i Liderek], which was meant to meet seniors’ needs in terms of development and self-education, as reported by the seniors themselves, and “Microgrants for seniors” [Mikrogranty dla seniorów] – a competition which supported informal groups, thanks to which they had a chance to carry out small local projects. What matters to me is listening to the unspoken. To me, organising activities for seniors is giving them wings.

Dreams:
To have as many meetings as possible, to be around other people. The time spent among seniors in the clubs is the most important. What matters to me is building relationships. There is a lot to be done, and when the pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, the clubs’ leaders will most likely come to me with many new ideas. I really hope that in the future there will be more clubs and places for intergenerational integration, where we could all share our skills and abilities, and, most importantly, socialise and co-create a local community.

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