Residents of the Waverly Mansion in London, Ontario are not settling for a boring stay in an assisted-living facility. With the urging of their recreation co-ordinator, Sarah Urquhart, the oldsters are becoming a YouTube sensation.
Urquhart had no idea her first production would be such a hit. Residents danced and lip-synched to Carly Rae Jepsen’s popular song, Call Me Maybe. Urquhart edited the video, uploaded it to YouTube and watched the hits roll in. As of the day I am typing this, it has been viewed close to a million times.
One of the participants, Marian Thompson, told CTV:
I hope this just shows how old people like me have a life ahead of them. You never know who’s going to jump out of the bush.
Fired up by the success of the first video, the residents have gone on to do a Gangnam Style video, the Harlem Shake, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and a version of the old-time favourite, Singing in the Rain, that gives new meaning to “chin music”.
All retirement homes have recreation programs, but Urquhart has hit on an idea that allows elderly residents to engage with a broader community even if they are unable to leave the facility. With ageism a significant issue and threats of a “grey tsunami” creating even more schisms among generations, these videos may also tear holes in a lot of the useless stereotyping of Old People.
Waverly Mansion has become more of a community since Urquhart started making the videos. Everyone can participate, whether on their feet or in a wheelchair, and participate they do. If I ever end up needing the kind of assistance available in a home like Waverly Mansion, I hope there is a Sarah Urquhart there to make my last years fun. She gives me hope.
Thanks to Tess Healy for the tip about this lively crew of retired folk.