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Home-grown Talent

For many residents of Toronto’s Terraces of Baycrest, there aren’t enough hours in the day. When Elizabeth Michnick grabs a couple of minutes to sit down and chat, the busy 83-year-old has a list in her hand to keep straight everything she does:

“Sports in the morning—chair exercises three times a week. I do weight training in the gym, aqua fitness, dance therapy and yoga. There’s the poetry group—we read and do a little bit of writing; the book club; the brain-twister program with funny little puzzles; the Scrabble group; and I lead a singalong group. Movies and concerts. There’s ‘Reading Angels,’ where we go out to a local school and coach the children in reading. That’s a really nice activity.

“That’s about all I can think of. . . Oh, yes, and I show newcomers how to use the laundry machines.”

Bernard Rubin, 82, is in the middle of a 30-minute session on a cycling machine. He’s often in the gym and he’s now a regular at the Terraces billiards club. “I’d never played before in my life till I moved here,” he says. “Even now, I’m not sure if it’s billiards, snooker or pool I’m playing! But I love it and we have some real experts here so I’m getting some coaching. We have a 95-year-old gentleman and you should see the shots he makes. He’s an artist.”

Creative art gets its due, too. Residents can try their hand at everything from knitting to woodcarving to stained glass. And Rachel Aronov is carrying on the work she did for 60 years in Israel and Montreal and as a volunteer at Baycrest before she moved in as a resident.

She teaches the art of painting ceramic bowls and ornaments. Her work is exquisite and such colours! “We never had so many colours in my factory,” Rachel says.

Bernice Krieger just finished a chair-exercise class. She’s giving aqua fitness a miss for once, though, she says, “when I’m in the water, I’m a bird. I don’t have an ache or pain.”

Bernice is 89 and was also a volunteer at the residence before she moved in. As she says, “I know my way around. I’m the mailman for my floor. And I do a tour of the place once a month for any new employees.

“I like exercise. I’m doing it four times a week and it makes a big difference. I’m much better for it. I think I’m the only female resident here who still drives!”

She takes computer classes too, as does Lawrence Sandy. “I wouldn’t be without my computer,” he says as he waits to have a massage.

Lawrence, 94, and his wife Kay, 89, are both in the residence’s drama group. Members write and stage their own plays. “Little things from life in the Terraces,” he says. “We get together regularly and talk about our experiences. It’s all taped and then we make plays out of it.”

“We read our lines though. You can’t expect us to be memorizing all this stuff!”

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