Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Ever wanted to learn a new skill or hobby but have not been quite sure where to begin? Or maybe you’ve looked at classes but thought they were outside of your budget? It might be time to acquaint yourself with the multi-talented Armidale University of the Third Age (U3A).

If you live in Armidale, you’re probably familiar with the iconic pink building on Markham Street. It is from within these rosy walls that the U3A holds classes on a broad array of subject areas and interests.

Sene Hicks, U3A Armidale’s publicity officer, has just realised the semester two schedule for the group. The second half of the year offers classes from exercise to languages, card and board games, music, and more than a bit of everything in between.

Ms Hicks, a practising psychologist and PhD student is not a member of the demographic usually associated with U3A, but this is a stereotype she passionately wants to debunk.

She stumbled across U3A after returning to Armidale with her son after a stint living in Brisbane.

“I came back to Armidale because I wanted my son to experience life in the beautiful, safe community that I love. But in between working with my clients and working on my PhD I suddenly realised that my life had become very isolated and very serious,” says Ms Hicks.

After multiple people had suggested to Ms Hicks that she find a hobby to break the tedium, she decided to pursue learning the card game bridge. This was when she discovered U3A.

“I had always seen this pink building with the University of the Third Age sign on it and assumed it was some kind of cult,” she laughingly recollects.

“But then I discovered that they took bridge classes, so I signed up. I loved it so much that suddenly I was not only learning bridge, but I was also in the book club and going bushwalking and being nominated as a committee member!”

When asked if she felt instantly comfortable with the group, Ms Hicks says, “At 48 years old, I’m the youngest person in the room so I think we all felt a little bit out of our comfort zone initially. But in all honesty, they are such an inclusive group, it wasn’t long at all before I felt very much at home.”

Ms Hicks is now working to promote U3A, not only as an activity for seniors but also for the broader community to learn with and engage with our senior citizens.

“It’s the Tuesday Talks that really blow my mind,” says Ms Hicks, “It’s made me realise just how many incredibly valuable, talented, well-educated senior citizens we have in our community.”

“Our society is so terribly guilty of just discarding these wonderful people like they have nothing left to offer because of their age, but they are such an incredible untapped resource to connect the generations.”

Ms Hicks has strong hopes that in time more people from her generation, and younger will engage with U3A as a mutual exercise in bridging gaps in intergenerational storytelling and skill development.

Enrolment for U3A Armidale’s Semester 2 classes are now open, with classes commencing in July. To find out more about what classes are available and how to join, visit their website.

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