THE Surf Coast branch of the University of the Third Age is signing new members and re-enrolling current members as it emerges out of COVID and prepares for a new year jam packed with incredible courses.
Vice-President John Bartlett said the group had managed to continue classes throughout the lock down period by adapting to the new
“Like everyone else, we basically folded in March and then started to think about how we could keep things going in one form or another,” he said.
“With a bit of help from the overall U3A Victorian network, we set up a Zoom account and a couple of our members put their hand up to become our Zoom co-ordinators and by June we started to run a few classes online.”
Mr Barlett ran a poetry class which was possible under the new conditions, however, he said other classes such as yoga, weren’t as effective in a Zoom setting.
“It was about maintaining a presence and keeping as many people connected as possible,” he said.
According to Mr Bartlett, U3A will expand next year to 26 courses, although some, such as yoga, will have lower class numbers due to COVID regulations.
U3A member of two years, Greta Lowe, found that adapting to the new online course structure during lockdown was almost a course in itself.
“I learnt a lot of computer skills so that has been fantastic. That has been a major thing. It was a new learning experience,” she said.
Ms Lowe’s favourite class was Cafe Italia, where group members would talk and read to learn basic conversational Italian.
“U3A is fantastic. It keeps you and your mind going, there are so many new skills to develop,” she said.
Likewise, Mr Bartlett believes U3A provides community members with an opportunity to remain connected during transitional phases in their life.
“The social aspect of this group is very important for the communuty. There are a lot of people around the age of 65 that might have moved from Melbourne or from somewhere else and they don’t have any connections at all really, or people who have stopped working full-time.
“People can get lonely stuck in their homes.”