Above: Last year’s Celebration of Life social event.
By Stephen Easton
Elderly citizens from the City of Yarra and surrounds, including residents of 17 aged care facilities, will be dancing up a storm tomorrow and celebrating their cultural diversity.
The Celebration of Life dance, tomorrow from 1pm to 3pm at the Collingwood Town Hall will allow participants to dance to Irish, Spanish, Italian, Middle Eastern, English and French folk music as well as a range of other modern and classic styles.
According to its organisers from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, 350-400 residents from 17 aged care facilities will attend the event, which is the tenth of its kind and many are planning to wear traditional ethnic costumes on the day.
“The Celebration of Life events are so important to the folks who attend,” Organiser Paul Brophy said. As manager of the Brotherhood’s Sambell Lodge in Clifton Hill, Mr Brophy wants to promote the idea among aged care facilities around the country, especially smaller independent ones.
“I say lets work together a bit more and cross pollinate our ideas. I love these events; I see my residents are looking forward so much to them.
“It gives them a hugely fun affair to mark on their calendars and look forward to. This is an occasion that puts a sparkle in people’s eyes. It makes them feel young again.
“I’ve seen a man weep with happiness as he listened to an Italian tune that reminded him of his homeland. But just as moving was seeing the joy on a lady’s face and hearing her amazement that someone had asked her to dance!”
After an address from the City of Yarra mayor, Councillor Alison Clarke, the gathering will dance to the sounds of Melbourne folk and world music band, Ricketty Bridge as well as singer and Member of the Order of Australia, Kavisha Mazzella.
Mr Brophy said that many aged care residents around the country did not get many opportunities to get out of their facilities and meet others, and that this event was focused on involving people from different cultural backgrounds including the Indigenous community, as well as students undertaking courses related to aged care.
“We can use these events like tomorrow as a vehicle to address so many other issues in our community: positive ageing, multiculturalism and indigenous affairs, as well as the need to encourage students to work in residential care,” he said.
“We’ve got to provide an opportunity for our residents to mix with residents from other aged care facilities, to take it out in the community and promote the positive things happening in residential aged care to the public.”
The last Celebration of Life dance in October last year featured an appearance by “Father Bob” Maguire.
For more information, contact the Brotherhood of St Laurence on (03) 9483 1329.