by Yvonne Gardiner
ON A Thursday morning, Southern Gold Coast 60 & Better program members have completed a gentle exercise class and are having a social morning tea and chat.
Many of these ladies are long-term participants in the variety of activities offered, including card games, board games, tai chi, yoga, table tennis, photography, crafts, walking groups and indoor bowls.
Seniors are encouraged to get out of the house, form friendships and keep active.
This 60 & Better group has grown from an original six members in 1994 to about 600 today.
Anita Brennan was a community development worker when she helped start the group.
"Most of the people on the steering committee were Lions Club members," she said.
"It's always been about looking after the older people.
"A lot of people on the Gold Coast had migrated here, they were single and had lost their partners."
Anita says the group focuses on three elements - physical, social and mental stimulation.
June Swatton, aged 87, is also a foundation member.
"I joined from the very beginning, in 1994," she said.
"There was only six of us. We used to meet in the park, until eventually we got this place (Pines meeting room at Elanora).
"My husband and I had just moved from Brisbane and we were looking for something to belong to, to mix with people.
"When you first come here, you don't know anyone.
"It turned out to be the right thing to do. People say they don't know what they'd do without it. I would recommend it to anyone.
"I do exercises Thursday and Friday, and line dancing on Monday.
I love it. It's good exercise.
"This is the place to come. This is where the action is. You don't want to sit at home and look at four walls."
Southern Gold Coast 60 & Better promotes healthier ageing through community connection.
The not-for-profit group is partly funded by the Department of Community, Child Safety and Disability Services to alleviate social isolation.
Joyce Bassett, aged 86, from Elanora, has experienced real benefits from her involvement.
"I came here to do line dancing in 1993, to get out of the house," she said.
"Three years ago, in 2015, I had a shocking nervous breakdown and they suggested I come here. It took me six months to get in that door, my confidence was so low.
"I had seven members of my family in hospital in one year. I do exercises to prevent falls every Tuesday and Friday. They've been marvellous. There's so many activities here."