Magical Moments

    ELLA—Edmonton Lifelong Learn­ers Association—promotes well-being for adults 50-plus.

    January 24, 2011

    After recovering from surgery five years ago, Peter Wightman, a former U of A sessional instructor, decided to do something new and rejuvenating before returning to work. So he attended a program called ELLA—Edmonton Lifelong Learn­ers Association—that was established in 2001 in partnership with the U of A’s Faculty of Extension. ELLA is for adults 50-plus who want to explore a diverse range of courses and activities that promote physical and mental well-being.

    “I felt like I was 18 again,” says Wightman about attending his first ELLA session.

    After retiring as an audiologist, Wightman and his wife, Anne, moved to Kimberley, B.C., a small city that boasts all the recreational amenities the Wightmans adore. But they soon found they missed certain things about Edmonton, such as ELLA, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Now they maintain a house in Kimberley and a condo in Edmonton that Wightman returns to frequently to sit on three different ELLA committees that meet throughout the year.

    “It’s not just intellectual and stimulating new-idea classes,” says Wightman, 61. “There are also fun classes.” He smiles recalling one such class, theatrical story-telling, where classmates wrote and performed an only slightly tongue-in-cheek skit which credited ELLA for “Keeping My Marbles.”

    Wightman is among dozens of volunteers with the non-profit organization who ensure that the three-week-long spring program runs smoothly and at minimal cost. Noma Morrissey, ’57 Dip(Nu), the group’s 74-year-old former publicity chairman, says, “There’s nothing quite like this in Canada. ELLA is a magical organization.”

    To learn more about ELLA go to

    —Don Retson