Learning Plus grew out of a project beginning in the late 1980s by a group of concerned Abbotsford residents. The Senior Widowed Persons Alone Project (SWAP) conducted nearly 200 interviews with local seniors, in an effort to discover what their specific needs were and how the community could best address those needs. The in-depth interviews were enlightening.
Yes, seniors wanted safe living conditions and access to good health care. But their needs didn't stop there. What many of them longed for -- and found lacking in their present situation -- was an opportunity for continued growth. "Use it or lose it," was the way one respondent put it. And if the learning could be conducted in a social setting -- for loneliness was also a concern for the people interviewed -- so much the better.
In the realm of recreational and cultural activities, Abbotsford does pretty well. But many of these activities take place in the evenings, when most seniors would just as soon be near the fireside with a good book.
By 1991, the Abbotsford Learning Plus Society had been formed to help fill the gap. A grant from New Horizons got the ball rolling, but by 1993 Learning Plus had become self-supporting and a host of volunteers -- guided by an elected Board of Directors -- were planning the programs, conducting the classes, raising funds, and generally involving themselves with every aspect of running the organization. Including, of course, the "social" aspect. For these are classes in which the coffee break is at least as important as the lecture!
The Society has one paid, part-time employee, an Executive Director who makes arrangements to book our classes, but otherwise everything is done by the seniors themselves.
The Heritage Fair Program, sponsored by the MSA Museum, is an educational initiative designed to increase awareness of Canadian history. Students are encouraged to research any aspect of Canadian history that interests them, and then present the results of their efforts in a public forum. The selected finalists from participating local schools are displayed at the Heritage Fair where their projects are judged for creativity, originality, and historical accuracy. Their project is then assigned to a specific category.
The Abbotsford Learning Plus Society sponsors the Lifetime Learning Category. Top winners of some categories go on to compete at the Provincial Fair.
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The true stars of our Society are the wonderful volunteers. We extend our appreciation for their generous help, support and dedication. We wish to acknowledge and thank our working partners as well: