Be stimulated by U3A
IF YOU are inspired by enthusiastic people, Rhonda Weston will leave you impressed.
Rhonda is president of Toowoomba's University of the Third Age (U3A), an organisation that dedicates itself to those of us who, after childhood, family and career responsibilities, graduate to our "third age” of retirement.
U3A is all about celebrating and investing in that chapter of our lives, through further learning, activity and social inclusion, as Rhonda describes it.
"U3A is a vehicle for healthy and active ageing,” she says.
U3A venues are across the state, the nation, and the world, offering a huge range of courses and activities from history and geography to the study of space travel, listening to a variety of guest speakers to just enjoying a game of cards.
But what makes Rhonda's Toowoomba operation stand out is its sheer scale and growth, marking it as a leader in the whole movement.
"We have 160 different activities every week,” Rhonda says.
"They cover mental stimulation, physical activity and social inclusion.
"We have four terms a year; they are fulfilling a great need in the community, and that need will only grow into the future.”
Rhonda emphasises that being a member is not restricted by one's retirement financial status - anyone can afford it.
She has been a member since 2004, and clearly her enthusiasm for the movement has rubbed off; after spending three years as vice-president, she has spent six years as president and is in her third year of representation as part of U3A's Asia-Pacific Alliance.
"I have spoken at three conferences, in Singapore, France and Osaka in Japan,” she says.
Rhonda is most proud of the massive membership growth in U3A Toowoomba under her tutelage.
"Six years ago we had 700 members - we now have just under 1800,” she says.
"And we have a branch in Pittsworth which has 99 members; that's a pretty good number in a town of just over 2000 people.”
Rhonda's husband David is also very involved in U3A, so it's a family affair, taking much time, but Rhonda says it's all worth it.
"And the support from volunteers is strong; in December we mailed out the 2017 course details and more than 50 volunteers showed up to help out.”
U3A's first term of activities begins on January 30, and you can explore what they are all about at www.u3atoowoomba.com.