With only about 40 days left until Bealtaine 2013, we are very pleased to welcome events from arts centres, libraries, groups, clubs, care settings and other organisers for inclusion on the listings. Our theme for this year is ‘Grow Happy’. John Butler Yeats, the father of poet WB Yeats, wrote in a letter that "Happiness... is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing or that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing". Bealtaine is a reminder to us that, no matter what our age, we always have the potential for growth. Come and grow happy with us!
Some highlights for us so far are the 'Complaints Choir' on 1 May which will transform the nation's moans and groans into a beautiful musical piece. 'The Man in The Woman's Shoes' is touring theatres around the country (and if I could give you one piece of advice - DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW - you'll be kicking yourself if you do). The slow craft project'Wandering Methods' will be exhibiting in Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin from mid-May. Photographer Kate Byrne is exhibiting her work in the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and will be speaking about the exhibition at a special Bealtaine event in the gallery.
Our 'Dawn Chorus', on the morning of 26 May, is going all European. Thanks to Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we have developed a DIY guide to running your own Dawn Chorus, (which will also be available in Polish, Spanish, Hungarian and French) from the Bealtaine website. So far, we have confirmed Dawn Choruses in Avoca, Ballina, Carhaix-Plouguer in France, Carlingford, Carrickmacross, Castlebar, Dollymount, Donegal Town, Dunderry Park, Dunmore East, Kinsale and Ranelagh.
AgeWise: Is it big in Japan?
We are now delivering increasing numbers of AgeWise workshops. Our open sessions, where people can attend on a 'per person' basis are proving very popular among staff new to the area of ageing and those who are looking at different ways of tackling age discrimination in their sector. It was on the morning of one of these sessions when media coverage hit about Tarō Asō, the Japanese Deputy Prime Minister, who encouraged his country's older people to "hurry up and die" due to his concern about the State potentially having to pay for their medical care. While making offensive statements seems to be his style, it does reveal a certain underlying assumption that is not reflected in the reality of most older people's lives.
Asō may not be at an AgeWise workshop any time soon but we know that there are people making plans, taking decisions and delivering services based on that same idea that being older is somehow only meaningful in medical terms and that the purpose of older age is only as a prelude to death and not as a vital and potentially productive and rewarding part of life.
There are now almost 30 million people over the age of 65 living in Japan (about 23% of the total population). Japan is already experiencing the increased percentage of older people in the population that many countries across Europe are expecting to experience in the coming twenty years. Outmoded ways of thinking about older people and ageing, which we can see in Asō's disturbing statement, are of no practical benefit to a world that now must adapt to this unprecedented shift in demographics.
Go for Life Fitline now in Kilkenny
The Go for Life Fitline, a phone line that supports and motivates people to get active, is now available in Kilkenny, thanks to Go for Life and Kilkenny Recreation & Sports Partnership. Kilkenny is a great place to be active and the FitLine will provide information about facilities, clubs, classes and groups around the county.
A big part of how we stay active is to form active habits. FitLine also advises people on setting up activity routines that they can do alone or with other people, whatever suits their lifestyle.
Stella O’Connor, a FitLine user from Drogheda, has reaped great benefits from it so far. She started out walking on her own, then with a neighbour and now Stella says “The FitLine mentors give me great encouragement… and I’ve taken up set dancing and other exercise which I really enjoy”.
Kilkenny Recreation & Sports Partnership is committed to promoting healthy living and personal development through recreational and sporting activity within all age groups, and throughout the whole community of Kilkenny City and County. The Sports Partnership provides support and assistance across a range of areas such as Sports Development, Physical Activity Provision, Education and Training, Information Provision and Leadership & Management. Further details on Kilkenny Local Sports Partnership are available on www.krsp.ie
Stories from the programmes: The Community Effect
The Community Effect aims to help people to develop confidence and skills so that they can work for change in their communities. The Community Effect offers the potential for active community engagement and leadership within a safe learning environment. Participants will develop their critical awareness skills and explore how wider societal issues impact on the lives of older people and motivate them to bring about change on issues affecting their lives.
Maire Brady who attended The Community Effect in Enniscorthy back in December, organised by the Wexford Local Development, talks about her experience on the course:
‘I’ve met there many interesting and different people, and I’ve learned there a lot about others and also myself. I always thought that people in my age group have similar beliefs and opinions, and only there I’ve discovered that we are more complex and varied. We’re all part of the community and there is a place for variety and various options within it. We can all contribute. The course has changed the way I look at people and also how I view myself. I’ve learned not to judge people by their appearance but to get to know them first. I also realised that I should think more of myself and not to doubt myself. I gained confidence’
Age & Opportunity now on Twitter
Thanks to our brilliant new volunteer, Catherine, who contacted us having read our plea in the last EngAGE newsletter, we are now tweeting as @Age_Opp. This means that you can now follow us on Twitter, Facebook and on YouTube, as well as finding out about us on our website ageandopportunity.ie. You can also follow our Bealtaine festival on Twitter (@BealtaineFest), Facebook and YouTube too, as well as via bealtaine.com. We've always been pretty social, Catherine has helped us to put a Web 2.0 slant on it.
May belongs to the Bealtaine festival, celebrating creativity as we age! Over 120,000 people now take part in Bealtaine. From dance to cinema, painting to theatre, Bealtaine showcases the talents and creativity of both first-time and professional older artists. Check our programme here
'Well into Older Age - Age & Opportunity and the Evidence' is a report from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, examining what research says about the value of promoting participation of older people.