The Elder College on the Sunshine Coast was started in the late 1990s as a private, community volunteer initiative to fill a perceived need in the seniors’ community. It started at a modest scale of approximately five short courses of three to five weeks duration, with each course meeting one day a week for two hours. The program was popular and was well-received in the community. Demand for courses grew rapidly, as did enrollment.
In 2002 the Board of Directors of the program met with officials from Capilano College and subsequently incorporated Elder College as a part of the continuing education program of the College. Eventually the program grew to approximately 14 courses per semester with a Board of Directors who advised the College administration on matters affecting the program and a Program Committee who set up and supervised the running of the courses.
The Capilano Elder College Program was very well received in the community and met a growing need for third age education as the senior demographic on the Sunshine Coast grew in numbers. In addition to the educational aspects of the courses, the program provided social opportunities, a chance to network and an opportunity to develop an inventory of skills. It also served as a source of informal information on other programs and resources available to seniors.
The content of the program is, and has always been, of very high quality. Instructors are all volunteers drawn from academia, the professions and from other private and public areas of expertise. Feedback from the students has always been very positive and academic observers have always been profuse in their praise of the program.
The program grew and evolved through to 2012, when it offered a total of 30 courses with an enrollment of more than 700, representing about 450 individuals. A significant number of our students enroll in multiple courses.
When Capilano College became Capilano University, Elder College became ElderU. In 2015 ElderU began its transformation into the non-profit independent Sunshine Coast Elder College Society. The ElderCollege has developed a working partnership with the Sunshine Coast Regional District for registration, advertising and public information distribution. It continues to work in cooperation with Capilano University in a number of areas and will continue to use that institution’s facilities as the main venue for its courses. The ElderCollege also has an association with the Sechelt Public Library. Under these new arrangements, the Sunshine Coast ElderCollege will continue to offer and expand on the same top quality courses and highly qualified instructors that our participants have been accustomed to and expect.