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This article was published 21/5/2019 (928 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

 

Yan Jiang wants people to live long, healthy, happy lives.

Jiang is the co-founder of the Winnipeg Chinese Senior Association, an organization that offers public seminars and fitness classes aimed at promoting health and wellness among seniors.

It’s rewarding volunteer work, according to Jiang.

"Each time we host an event, (attendees) have very positive feedback," the 55-year-old Bridgwater resident says. "It makes me happy."

Born and raised in Shenyang, China, Jiang immigrated to Canada with her family in 2000 so that her husband, Xiaofeng Guan, could pursue his research in oral pathology.

Jiang was a nurse and administrator in Shenyang, but became a homemaker when the family arrived in Winnipeg.

Jiang enjoys keeping busy serving as the association’s president because she has free time now that her two sons are grown up.

"I’m a people person and I was an administrator back home," she says. "I feel I can donate some of my time and my knowledge to work with (seniors)."

With Jiang’s help, the association developed "Learning Your Health," a series of free seminars open to the public.

There have been nine seminars since early 2017, addressing topics like mental health, cardiovascular diseases, sleep, dementia and liver health.

More than 1,000 people have attended the seminars, which are held at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre downtown.

The association runs several clubs and classes.

These include a Ping-Pong club, a tai chi exercise club, aerobics and fitness classes, drawing classes, as well as a group that gets together to play cards.

Jiang is involved leading tai chi, aerobics and Ping-Pong.

In addition to publicizing the group’s offerings online, Jiang promotes them via WeChat, a free messaging app that is especially popular in China.

She maintains two WeChat groups that include a combined 800 people, the majority of whom are Chinese immigrants.

Occasionally, her sons help out with the events she organizes.

Her eldest son, Tony Guan, praises his mother’s commitment to giving back.

"She’s definitely someone who’s always on the go," Guan says. "She can’t sit still."

He adds that his mother is passionate about bringing people from Winnipeg’s Chinese community together, whether it’s seniors at health seminars and fitness classes or people of all ages at events like a recent Mother’s Day lunch she helped organize.

"She’s definitely a great leader."

Last year, Jiang was recognized with an award from Mayor Brian Bowman, and last month, she received the Premier’s Volunteer Service Award at Volunteer Manitoba’s 36th annual awards banquet.

"It is an honour for sure, but I feel I need to do more for the community," Jiang says.

She hopes the recognition gets the word out about the association so that more seniors — whether they are Chinese or not — attend the seminars and classes.

Anyone interested can find information at winnipegchineseseniors.ca. They can also contact Jiang on WeChat, where her username is yjg1964.

"If people want to join us, they are welcome," Jiang says.

"I want everybody to be happy and healthier."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.