Centrum celoživotního vzdělávání Experimentální univerzita pro prarodiče a vnoučata Klub aktivního stáří Klub vzájemného porozumění Cestování Trénování paměti

Club of Active Aging

On January 30th 2014 this club will celebrate its 30th Anniversary. What do you know about the club? Is it a club where you have to purchase a membership card to take part in its activities? That certainly was not the intention of Dr Vera Weberova who founded the very first club of this type in Prague in 1978 .She had the idea during a sleepless night for a club open to all senior citizens which could form a much needed platform for social contact between lonely  seniors. Dr Weberova managed it very successfully and the club programs opened in the Radimova Cultural House in Prague 6 where the number of visitors was often higher than the capacity of the hall. 

I myself learnt about this club from newspapers in the summer of 1983 shortly after I gave birth to my fifth child. The article ended with an appeal to create similar clubs in other parts of Prague particularly in the newly established suburban housing estates. I was myself living in such an estate and South Town at that time was one big construction site, no sidewalks, no benches, no places for social contact except self service stores and medical centres. I was attracted by the idea of establishing a place of social contact for those who had been uprooted from their former neighbourhoods and planted in a new area full of families with young children. But this was easier to say than to do. I needed finance and backing to implement my goal. The first task that I had, was to convince the politicians in South Town that there was no future for this part of  Prague without my club. The only support I received was from the head of the Cultural Department in Prague 4 all the other decision makers opposed the idea. Why invest into people who are no longer productive? Give them an accordion to entertain themselves and let them play cards. I had to face this kind of arrogance and indifference. With the help of Dr Weberova  I created the concept of  promoting  high quality programs which only created more opposition , but by now I was accustomed to marching against  the resistance and finally I was given permission to run one experimental programme. They made a hall available for this in a small Cultural Centre with 130 seats and a small amount of money for the performers fees. The rest was up to me!

I consulted Dr Weberova and she suggested hiring Dr Pixa. He had previously been the top interviewer on Czechoslovak TV,  well known from his many TV appearances but in 1983 he was no longer acceptable to our politicians and banned from appearing on TV ( because of his attitude towards the Soviet invasion in 1968) . Fortunately he was still allowed to entertain the public and Dr Weberova was right Dr Pixa had a high reputation among the older population.

 I had first met him as a six year old child. In 1955 he arrived with a television crew at my father´s poultry farm. I was a talkative child and he had a job to keep me quiet  eventually he said we will play a game who can keep quiet the longest.. After I reminded him of this he agreed, the next problem was who was he to introduce .it needed to be someone who was old enough to identify with our audience but had a young image. These criteria were met by a famous actress and singer Ljuba Hermanova . She was over seventy but still able to do acrobatics on the stage, her accompanist was a famous pianist Dr.Truc and these three famous people were advertised to appear on my very first cultural event on the30th of January 1984 . However the worst happened they lost themselves in the grey concrete jungle that was  South Town in those days. I almost cried thinking of all the effort I had put into advertising this event going around the houses with a voting roll and putting leaflets into the post boxes of all the over  60’s scared that they would not come and now they were all here, the hall was full only the performers were missing. The Director of the Cultural house who had opposed the idea from the beginning was gloating 

“Now it is your turn Ms.Steinova, you can start to sing yourself…..” At that moment the performers arrived and it was a great success. I was given permission to arrange one more event and after another great success I was allowed to continue without their close supervision.

There was no admission charge and no salary for the organiser only my youthful enthusiasm kept me going. I offered a wide variety of programmes to the elderly who came from all over Prague. The concerts of classical music were mixed with performances by prominent actors, singers, poets, writers, lectures given by lawyers , Historians and physicians. In November 1984 I started a series with stars from stage and screen including showing their films. Every Christmas there was a special Christmas programme with a surprise for the lonely elderly.

Dr Weberova died in March 2000…..

When the club celebrated its 18th anniversary/ a mature age in this territory / in January 2002 we were talking about all those people who had contributed to the fame of the Club for the Active Elderly during those years with Dr Pixa.. Two years later Dr Pixa died and his last wish was : Danuska, please, take it over and I did , I am still carrying on the Clubs Mission to help the Elderly in Prague to overcome their loneliness and to give them a top cultural experience and to offer a new life programme. I was only 34 years old when I started the Club for the Active Elderly but gradually I have grown up into the age of the visitors to my club…….