U3A Bendigo keeps minds active

ANY day of the week, morning or afternoon, you will find members of the U3A (University of the Third Age) playing cards or darts, thrashing a table tennis ball, learning French or playing hand chimes.

The activities are numerous and just an example of the wide range of classes, lectures and activities on offer to U3A members in Bendigo.

The 430 Bendigo members range in age between 65 and 95 and according to Peter Eisen, the president of the U3A, the intention of the organisation is providing stimulation for people in their retirement.

“People join us because they want to continue to learn and keep their minds active,” he said.

“We provide long and short term activities and provide monthly speakers. Next week we are going to have a lecturer from Melbourne University who will be talking to us about the future of agriculture.”

As well as outside lecturers Mr Eisen said that U3A members also acted as tutors, teaching such things as aerobics, the art of doing cryptic crosswords and computer classes for beginners.

There are nearly 100 different U3A groups in Victoria.

The movement first started in the '70s in France and then spread to the rest of Europe and the US. Groups in these countries are generally based in universities.

Another version of ongoing learning was started in England and is based more on self-help activities and classes. Mr Eisen said that the Bendigo U3A was based on this second, self-help model and has been in Bendigo since 1990.

“We are currently looking for new members and while we seem to have many people from the South and East of Bendigo, we would like to see more from the North Bendigo, Eaglehawk, Long Gully and California Gully areas,” Mr Eisen said.

“We have a bit of a motto here, which goes along the lines of ‘Life long learning for mind, body and health’.”

The U3A office is open on Wednesdays from noon to 2pm. Phone 5444 0362 for more information.

The U3A is based at the Uniting Church Hall on the corner of High and Laurel streets, Golden Square.

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