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Never to old to learn: Study groups available for Okanagan seniors

Society for Learning in Retirement offers fall lineup of courses

With stunning glacial lakes, verdant volcanic hills and terraced walking trails, it’s no wonder retired folks are drawn to B.C.’s Okanagan – the area has seen an unprecedented influx of seniors in recent years; their population currently topping 30 per cent in some communities.

The geological discoveries of this unique valley are a favourite among many subjects of exploration offered to mature adults by the Society for Learning in Retirement, (SLR) a registered non-profit organization based in Kelowna.

Open to all mature adults, the SLR study groups are available, either in class in Kelowna or on Zoom from anywhere in the country, and are free of stress: no homework, no exams!

Nor does joining require a bank loan…cost is minimal, from $10 to $30 depending on the number of weekly two-hour sessions.

And the topics are vast and diverse. Among this fall’s offerings: An in depth journey into the history of the Okanagan fruit and wine industries, the history of yoga, Buddhism, rediscovering Earth and its place in our Solar System, and the many faces of Africa.

Or if something more creative suits your fancy, SLR has scheduled study groups on painting with acrylics, art history, tarot cards, poetry and writing groups.

Politics an area of interest? Try SLR’s classes in current events or the wars of Russia.

From Astronomy to art, Africa to afterlife, current affairs to caregiving, music to mindfulness, politics to photography, writing to wine groups, the discussions are led by a host of knowledgeable specialists, including professors and instructors from UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.

Once you join, you’ll be hooked!

Joanne Lund, a senior who joined the learning institute recently after she relocated to Kelowna from the coast, says exploring subjects of interest through SLR helps her mind stay active and curious.

Lund also enjoys forging relationships with her peers in an atmosphere of friendship, fun and support.

“SLR’s opportunities for learning and socializing online saved me from going stir crazy during the lengthy pandemic,” she said.

“There is no better venue for mature adults to engage in learning and discussion of subjects of interest to them. To be honest, I was dubious when offered the option to take a class online: it involved learning Zoom, new technology that I wasn’t convinced I could handle at my age.

“With help from SLR group hosts who made it easy to understand and get connected I was able to join the weekly sessions while at home with a cup of tea and my kitty cat on my lap.

“I enrolled in a Zoom geology course, a course on China and one on art history.

“They were amazing – and the knowledge I attained vastly improved the quality of my day.

“The cost of the courses are reasonable and the instructors are knowledgeable and entertaining. And I have met many informative and supportive friends along the way. What a find!”

Lund is not alone in her appreciation of the learning opportunities.

SLR has flourished since opening its doors in the mid-1990s. Originally dubbed the Okanagan Institute for Learning in Retirement (OILR), the learning facility, run mainly by volunteers, was aimed at paving the way for active seniors to embark on a journey of lifelong learning, with topics of their own choosing.

Its membership has more than doubled; now topping 300 active learners, with plenty more room to grow.

Its selection of courses has expanded to more than 50 subjects from the 10 it opened with. And there’s room for more study group leaders if you have a topic of interest you’d like to explore and share with others in SLR.

So check out the website at and refresh your fall and winter days by heading back to school at the Society for Learning in Retirement.

Registration begins Aug. 20 at noon, both online and in person at the SLR headquarters, 1434 Graham St. in Kelowna.

Any questions? Call our office manager at 250-448-1203 or e-mail

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