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Federal funding is music to seniors’ ears and focuses on fitness

Seniors will be making music together thanks to a new program to be run in nursing and retirement homes by the County of Prince Edward Library.

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis confirmed funds to the tune of $5,405 Friday at the Picton branch delivered through the government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Ellis spoke of the importance of getting seniors involved in community activities that meet their needs, reflect their interests and tap into collective resources, and experiences.

“Libraries are a lifetime learning experience,” said Ellis. “These buildings are for everybody and we’re here today with funding that supports community… and the great staff and volunteers that work here.”

Barbara Sweet, Libraries CEO, is thrilled with the grant, and overtures made to local homes have been positive.

“This funding has made it possible for us to purchase drums and other percussion instruments to take into local nursing and retirement homes. The idea of a drumming circle in these facilities has been enthusiastically received and we look forward to delivering music, in addition to our regular book and reading circle programs.”

Drummer Ruth Dwight, with other volunteer drummers, will begin visiting and teaching the seniors in May.

“We have some of the instruments now, and others yet to come in,” said Sweet, noting the program augments the popular musical instrument lending library out of Milford.

“Our ukelele groups are huge,” Sweet said. “We are hoping this will grow beyond that but this is where we are starting with bi-weekly, or monthly visits.”

Prince Edward County mayor Robert Quaiff was pleased to hear about the Music Share program as the newest expanded service from the library.

The idea of sharing music struck a chord with Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff who recalled his his father often choose to play guitar with he and his brothers over watching television – though he did admit the talent for playing skipped a generation in his case, moving directly to his daughter and granddaughter.

“It’s a great experience for seniors in our community. We have the second oldest population of seniors in Ontario, and the fifth largest in Canada and for this expansion of service in our library to provide this opportunity, is amazing,” he said, adding that the number and types of services offered through the branches now have been increasing steadily over the years in benefit of residents of all ages.

The mayor thanked Ellis for the funding announcement from the Canadian government and invited him to keep coming back with more.

There was more, Friday, as Ellis was also at the Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre in the morning announcing $40,000 in Canada 150 community-building funding that helped rebuild the lobby area, making it more accessible for patrons.

The federal grant, Ontario Trillium Foundation and municipal funding allowed the not-for-profit centre to increase the size of its lobby and reception area, make it more secure and reduce costs through energy efficiencies.

“Over the past few years our membership has grown tremendously in size and this renovation allows us to offer a better service to anyone in Prince Edward County regardless of their physical, economic or social barriers,” said Meloni Crandall, general manager at the facility.

“It’s about building communities and people in general said Ellis, noting that through the years, children must learn to swim as an important life skill.

“With these types of facilities people often look at the politicians and see just the money, not the community. Coming into a facility like this brings me great joy… and it affects a lot of lives and it builds communities.”

Mayor Quaiff noted the municipality’s support and partnership with the centre for more than a decade.

“I’ve sat around that horseshoe for 13 or 14 different budgets and the conversations over that period of time have become a lot smoother with a lot better understanding. In particular this council really gets it when it comes to the health and well-being of the community – and especially our senior population. I think of it as part of our health care budget.”

Thanking Ellis for the Canada 150 funds, he invited him to inspect the work under way at Benson Park thanks to $133,200 Canada 150 funding announced last March.

“It’s a massive improvement there thanks to the Canada 150 funds,” Quaiff said.

The park is closed while $400,000 in upgrades to the tennis court, a basketball pad, sidewalks and washrooms are expected to be completed this spring.

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