Opinion | It’s never too late to unlock your potential

During the past 30 years several models for lifelong education after retirement have been developed worldwide, one of them being the University of the Third Age [U3A].

The first U3A was formed in France in 1972 and it has since spread to become a worldwide movement.

U3A began in Australia in 1982 and commenced in Ballarat in 1987.

Activities began in the Ballarat School of Mines and in private homes with some 50 to 60 inaugural members.

And look what’s happened since ... 

Five years ago, Ballarat U3A had a membership of 480.

Today that number is approaching 1100. 

U3A stands for the University of the Third Age.

The word university is used in its earliest Latin form meaning a gathering of people with the same interest, indicating you certainly don’t have to be an academic to join U3A.

The Third Age refers to an era in our lives

Our early childhood and education is classed as the first age where we are learning about the world for the first time.

This is then followed by the second age, characterised by a career or period working and raising a family.

It is after this that the third age begins, where people can participate and join in all the things they wanted to, but never really had the opportunity to.

U3A gives members the opportunity to UNLOCK THEIR POTENTIAL.                                  

Ballarat U3A currently conducts some 120 classes and activities and there really is something to suit everyone.

There are five music groups and a fantastic choir or you have a yen for foreign climes join one of the 12 language classes.

And if getting in touch with your physical side is your ideal there’s ballroom dancing, Scottish dancing, clogging, yoga and many more activities.

In addition, U3A conducts current affairs, science and various history classes.

Thanks to the staff at disability organisation Pinarc, U3A has access again to the facilities provided at the old Golden Point State School.

There, woodworking, mosaics, jewellery-making and even more activities are conducted.

In fact, U3A classes are held at some 15 different venues right across Ballarat, with great support from the City Council and the Ballarat North Senior Citizens’ with whom U3A shares the Ballarat North Community Centre. (Currently under an upgrade by the council.)

U3A also holds classes and activities at The Eastwood Leisure Complex, North Ballarat Neighbourhood House, the Basketball Stadium, Ballarat South Senior Citizens’ and many other venues including the Eureka Centre and the Community Hub at Lucas.

All U3A tutors, committee members and executive are volunteers, contributing many hours to ensure the ongoing success and development of the organisation.

With 1100 members that means U3A provides approximately 80,000 hours of life experience in the Ballarat community, particularly at the senior end of the demographic spectrum.

Ballarat currently has some 18,000 residents over the age of 65 so there is great opportunity for Ballarat U3A to continue to grow in support of this group.

For further information go to the Ballarat U3A website www.u3aballarat.org.au or call 0431 859 315 and enrich your life, because our brains never retire.

Jack Engwerda, Ballarat U3A president