Community centre a hub of socially responsible programing

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Mayor Report, by Wendy Robinson

Role has changed from days when used mostly for social gatherings, weddings

When we last spent a bit of time together, I was talking about the Community Centre and mentioned a couple of groups that used the facility on a regular basis. That peaked my interest in just who was using the centre and I thought you might be interested as well.

No wonder it isn’t always obvious that something is going on as the parking lot is behind the building and out of sight. You may be surprised, as I was, at what a variety of groups are utilizing the space.

Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the centre is open from 9 a.m. to noon for anyone who would like to get some exercise in a warm, safe environment. You can work on personal bests for number of laps or just a casual walk without worrying about snow or ice. The side door is open for walkers, so call a friend, grab your sneakers and take advantage of this free opportunity.

The County of Colchester is running a seniors’ fitness program for 10 weeks from 1 to 2 p.m. each Monday and Wednesday. Hopefully it will lead to more such programs at the centre.

The reason the doors aren’t open for business for walkers on Wednesdays is that young families take over the space. Maggies’s Place, a non-profit organization based in Truro, is there from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to offer a place away from the routines of home, where parents and children can play, learn and meet other parents. Maggie’s Place also offers FREE programs for adults and children, including prenatal/postnatal support, child development programs for preschoolers and referral services for families with older children.

In addition to Maggie’s Place downstairs, the upstairs rings with the sounds of children playing and learning each weekday morning from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays find 15 children enrolled in pre-school while on Tuesdays and Thursdays nine children benefit from a morning of play-school activities.

The Stewiacke Play PreSchool, a licensed daycare, has been operational since the ’70s and these programs have been running in the community centre since 2002. There have been many families who have benefited from this important service in our town.

The centre is busy most evening as well. On Sundays and Thursdays, Bingo offers a night out for some people to meet friends, have a few laughs and perhaps have a chance to win some money. Bingo is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to return profits back into the community and, as such, has helped many local people and causes through the years. Nothing like the thrill of yelling “BINGO!” while knowing everyone in our community wins.

On Tuesdays and Friday evening you’ll find Jim Kennedy donating his time to lead the Shotokan Karate Club. His classes have grown from a few students on Friday evenings to more than 20, ranging in age from very young to those who remember being young, on Tuesday evening as well. The classes represent his commitment to encouraging physical and mental health of our community.

The 324 Bonaventure Sea Cadet Corp. meet every Monday and Wednesday evening at 6:30 at the community centre. The youth (aged 12 to 18) enrolled in this program are learning valuable skills specific to naval operations and, perhaps more importantly, leadership, self-pride, commitment, good citizenship principals (i.e. volunteerism) and community minded spirit. The cadets are able to use the program towards high school credits and as credits for the Duke of Edinburg Program. They also have opportunities for international exchange programs to promote culture and diversity throughout the world. This Corps is the only Sea Cadet Corps between here and Halifax, making it more available for our youth who wish to participate.

In addition to the regular activity going on at the community centre, several weekends a year the hall is busy with auctions, fundraisers, variety shows and firemen’s banquets. The town runs March Break and summer programming at the centre as well.

I remember babysitting as a teenager while couples went to the hall for dances just about every Saturday night. That was a way of life. It would be astonishing to add up all the potatoes that were peeled and served out of the kitchen since Fire Chief Lorne Carter first built the community centre, as there seemed to be a wedding reception at the centre most weekends from June to October.

But the world has changed; weddings are held in warm destinations or in a hotel, thus changing the “purpose” of the hall. It seems it’s now used less for social gatherings and more for social-responsibility programing. So instead of seeing most of the activity at the community centre on the weekends, we see that “the lights are on and someone is home” most days of the week.

Wendy Robinson has served as mayor of Stewiacke since October 2012.

Organizations: Community Centre, Shotokan Karate Club, Bonaventure Sea Cadet

Geographic location: Colchester, Truro, Halifax Stewiacke

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