Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Canada’s Day for All Ages

(l-r) Sharon MacKenzie, executive director of i2i Intergenerational Society
of Canada with Mary Lattenville (a Meadows School Project participant),
former student participant Erin Sturrock and another Meadows School
participant Marie Firth during the June 1 Intergenerational Day
Canada celebration.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each week, we'll feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This new series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United's endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

In part seven of our series, we feature i2i Intergenerational Society of Canada, an organization based out of British Columbia and created to assist Canadians in the building of bridges between generations. (Read parts one, two, three, four, five and six.)

This blog post and photos appear courtesy of Sharon MacKenzie, Executive Director of i2i Intergenerational Society.

In my country, we celebrate Intergenerational Day on June 1st. Last month marked the fifth year we recognized this commemorative day.

It’s a time when provincial, territorial and over 100 municipal governments across the country acknowledge the importance of respectful intergenerational relations.

The i2i Intergenerational Society’s charge to Canadians is a small one: reach out to someone of a different generation. (See our history.)

The Meadows School Project's former students and participants
We spread the word through newsletters, social media (Facebook and Twitter), our website and those of our colleagues, and through official proclamations shared within community by city councils and provincial/territorial legislatures.

The citywide events spread from Toronto, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta to Victoria and Vernon, British Columbia, where the Victoria City Parade drew a crowd of 200,000 seniors and children.

Another great event was the Vernon reunion, which brought together students and older adults from the Meadows School Project, an intergenerational immersion program that ran from 2001 to 2008.

Other cities and local groups opted for intergenerational picnics, sing-a-longs, media coverage with stories of the value of their relationships, ice cream parties and sharing of bridge building activities that involved teens making videos to help older adults understand appliances in the home.

The one-day initiative on June 1st brings attention to the power of intergenerational relations in building a more resilient community by breaking down the issues of ageism. 

Clip from i2i's documentary Whose Grandma Are You?
The i2i Intergenerational Society sees the immense value for health, education and the community at large when older adults and children/youth are given time to build respectful and reflective relations.

Our research of eleven years, which incorporates the Meadows School Intergenerational Immersion Project template into four care facilities and schools in British Columbia and Alberta, proves that intergenerational activities improve sense of well-being, reduce isolation and create a greater sense of contributing meaningfully to the local community.

This has huge implications for health in an aging demographic and a world where children and youth are increasingly confronted with the insecurities of our changing society.

Our mandate is to partner with all of the local intergenerational initiatives in Canada to create a larger advocacy group and a resource base for others wishing to get involved in their locales.

We encourage others to see the benefits of bridging generations every day in every way, which speaks to our slogan: “It’s not about doing different things, it is about doing things differently.”

For more information and to download resources, go to www.intergenerational.ca

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