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Local author and former journalist presents a comedic side of ageism

Garrison Village residents and visitors were presented with a light-hearted, yet comedic perspective on ageism by Fort Erie author, speaker and award-winning journalist Michael Clarkson.

Clarkson, 71, spoke among a crowd of about 40 people on Friday, June 14, of which was his first presentation to seniors on ageism.

In his presentation to the residents, he noted the humourous aspects of ageing including why getting old “sucks,” the “good things” about memory loss and the traditional benefits of growing old.

Not only did he focus on the some of the humour aspects, he did touch on some of the more serious including culture shocks the “traditional generation” experienced such as the Great Depression, World War II, 1960s cultural revolution, emergence of child and women power, integration of immigration within communities, technology and communications advancements, retirement and the loss of a spouse.

Clarkson will be moving forward and doing more presentations for seniors’ homes and organizations.

I think it’s important to emphasize how life can be different, with more freedom, for seniors these days, compared to past generations – if we take the opportunities,” Clarkson said.

I’m in my 70s now and there are more options open for us (as) we don’t have to retire at 65 and we’re starting to think bigger than we did.”

Clarkson added that in the past, seniors limited themselves to traditional activities, such as knitting, cards and lawn bowling.

As these activities are “all are still worthwhile”, Clarkson explained that seniors living in a residential community, such as Garrison Place, allows them to engage in activities such painting for the first time, piano playing and even learn a new language.

His friends and local residents Mary and Ernie Reinhart each made a presentation on the activities and volunteer opportunities they are currently engaged in.

Clarkson said, “Reinharts were good additions to my presentation to show how active people can be in their golden years.”

Mary is a dedicated volunteer with a number of local organizations including 100 Women Who Care in Niagara, while Ernie is now hosting his own radio podcast in Niagara Falls on 4680q.

Clarkson also added that he and Ernie are currently working on a documentary on his late friend Harold Axtell, of Fort Erie, who became one of the leading naturalists and birdwatchers in North America.

In his presentation, Clarkson also presented that his Mom and father-in-law Tony Vanderklei were inspirations to him on their outlook on life.

(My father-in-law) wakes up every day with a song in his heart (and it’s his) positive attitude that has gotten him through a lot,” Clarkson said.

He added, “He’s always been positive in his thinking to the point that he denies certain things and with that mentality has gotten him to age 96.”

Clarkson also noted that when people are younger they get “distracted” and “don’t notice the little things.”

We don’t smell the roses enough.”

The thing about my Mom is that I think she knew there was magic in everyday life and in every little thing,” he said.

Garrison Village Director of Recreation Brenda Isherwood said that Clarkson did a “great job” discussing the topic of ageism that was light-sidedly truthful.

Joan Stephenson said she enjoyed the presentation, which gave her a “much-needed boost.” Stephenson added it was good to have a presentation from a “slightly younger perspective.”

Not only is Clarkson a speaker, but he also has a writing career that spans beyond 40 years. He began his career writing at two local newspapers and eventually moving on to becoming a sports writer with the Toronto Star.

For the past 25 years, Clarkson has intensely studied stress and fear and with this produced his own formula for coping with stress “Hyper Flow,” which taps into the fight or flight for increased production of work.

Clarkson has not only written countless news articles, but he has also penned seven books including Quick Fixes for Everyday Fears.