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Seniors’ Centre Without Walls hosts speaker series for farmers and ranchers

SCWW has a strong core group who have become close friends over the last two years. It is an informal, fun, welcoming group who enjoy setting newcomers at ease.
Senior farmer on phone in field (valentinrussanov-E+-Getty Images)
Senior farmer on phone in field

Seniors’ Centre Without Walls (SCWW) is an over-the-phone social program that has proven to be a popular and effective way to improve the mental health and wellbeing of its participants.

The program was started by the provincial non-profit Age Friendly Outreach & Resource Network, which recognized that the enforced isolation of public health orders was having serious negative effects – especially on an age group that might not be as hooked in to social media and the internet as younger generations tend to be.

SCWW is totally free and offered exclusively over the phone. You just dial the number and join the call. It connects participants with about a dozen others for activities such as art programs (many of which are offered in partnership with the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery), trivia and brain games, guest speakers, history segments, book clubs, informational sessions, yoga, writing classes, and more.

SCWW has a strong core group who have become close friends over the last two years. It is an informal, fun, welcoming group who enjoy setting newcomers at ease.

The month of March will bring some new programming called “Put the Coffee On,” offered in partnership with Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Farmer and Rancher Mental Health (FARMh) initiative. FARMh researchers are interested in exploring the potential benefits of party-line-style peer support systems for farmers and ranchers.

“Studies tell us these groups, in particular, lead high-stress lives,” said Ronda Wedhorn, SCWW program coordinator, “and are looking for programs suited for their unique lifestyles… So we’re exploring ways that we can use our telephone framework to provide farm-culture-friendly supports for farmers and ranchers.”

Not only is this particular program free, but participants will be compensated with a small gift certificate. Participants must be over 18, live in Saskatchewan, and be a current or retired rancher or farmer.

Put the Coffee On will be every Wednesday (and one Tuesday) in March, featuring six guest speakers, some of whom will be in conversation with other guests:

  • Wed., March 2 at 10:00 a.m. – Rob Carnie from CHAB Radio will speak about his experiences as a radio personality, sports commentator, and agriculture reporter
  • Wed., March 9 at 10:00 a.m. – Christie Whelan, a farmer, rancher, and pilot, will talk about how he deals with stress. He will be joined by Leanne Thoroughgood, MSW, RSW, who was born and raised in a small-town farming community and is a social worker at 15 Wing
  • Wed., March 16 at 1:00 p.m. – Della Ferguson, a grief support group facilitator, will speak about ‘When It’s Next Year Country’
  • Wed., March 23 at 10:00 a.m. – Catherine Livingstone, a cognitive mental health advocate, will have a conversation with Dr. Tom Robinson to answer the question ‘Is Your Brain Like a Tractor?”
  • Tues., March 29 at 10:00 a.m. – Radio host Rustie Dean will speak on the subject of the role and evolution of women in farming
  • Wed., March 30 at 1:00 p.m. – Psychologist Dr. Tom Robinson will talk about adapting to big life changes

Each session is 30 to 60 minutes. Pre-registration is a must. Phone-in participants can choose merely to listen – or, if they’d like, they can engage with the speakers and other participants.

At the end of March, participants will be asked to fill out a short, anonymous survey with feedback for any changes the researchers might want to make.

“No one needs to have a computer. You don’t need internet,” Wedhorn said. “You can put your phone on speaker and listen in while you’re out in the calving barn, or in the grain truck, or out in the shop, or sitting at the kitchen table. It’s really accessible.”

More information is available from sccwwmoosejaw.com. To register, call (don’t text) program coordinator Ronda Wedhorn at 306-631-4357, or email farmresearch2021@gmail.com.