Margaret Denton, PhD, is the Vice President of the Hamilton Council on Aging and Chair of the Age Friendly Hamilton Governance Committee.
Margaret was the driving force in bringing the vision of Age Friendly to Hamilton in 2007, making Hamilton the first City in Ontario to begin the process of becoming an Age Friendly City. She has been a leader in moving her vision of an Age Friendly Hamilton forward ever since.
Margaret has also been a valuable member of the McMaster community, having served as Director of the Centre for Gerontological Studies, Director of the Gerontology Programme, Acting Chair of the Department of Sociology, Graduate Chair in the Department of Health, Aging and Society, and a member of many university committees.
Margaret’s work extends beyond Hamilton, collaborating with many communities to develop best practices in implementing age friendly communities across Southern Ontario.
Southern Ontario Age-Friendly Network Part 1: Innovative Age-friendly Programs
The Southern Ontario Age-Friendly Network has representatives from 18 communities in the south and western areas of Ontario Canada. who are at various stages on the journey to becoming age-friendly Meeting on a bi-monthly basis we share our stories, learn from each other and discuss barriers and opportunities. This symposium presents information on a number of innovative programs in the areas of housing, transportation, outdoor spaces, and age-friendly businesses being implemented by our members. In the first session, Heather Thompson presents the Halton HomeShare Program. HomeShare is a solution that enables older adults to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. It is a living arrangement whereby the home owner shares their home with another for a reduced rent and or assistance with the care of their homes. Lisa Maychuk will present on a collaborative project in the City of Hamilton designed to decrease the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities for senior road users. It offers both an education and skills building workshop along with an awareness building campaign. This is followed by Margaret Denton and Shelagh Kiely who will present on a second collaborative project in Hamilton titled “Let’s Get Moving which is designed to educate older adults on the mutual benefit of various forms of active transportation. Older adults will participate in 3 sets of workshops including , ‘Let’s Take the Bus’, ‘Let’s Take a Walk’ and “Let’s Ride a Bike’. Each workshop includes an educational presentation and a experiential component. The fourth presenter, Lillian Wells will describe a Toronto project in which senior and youth volunteers are paired with local businesses to share information about aging, the age-friendly movement and how businesses could enhance their services to older adults. The last presenters, Michael Ackerman and Cathy Poirier will outline the development and results of a three-year experiment in intergenerational learning undertaken by Wilfred Laurier University and the Grand River Council on Aging that brought together students and senior community members to study the genre of autobiography or life-writing.
The Halton HomeShare Program, Presented by Heather Thompson, Burlington Age-Friendly Council.
Recognized by the World Health Organized as an Age-Friendly Practice, The Halton HomeShare Program is a partnership between the Regional Municipality of Halton, Halton Housing Help and the Burlington Age-Friendly Council. Currently being offered in Halton region, Ontario, HomeShare is a living arrangement between two or more people who live in the same residence. Each has their own private space and will typically share common areas in the home. Household responsibilities can be shared, or services exchanged for reduced rent.
The Halton HomeShare Program promotes an individual’s choice to age in place, offering a solution for many older adults who wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. It enables older adults to remain independent and active, while developing meaningful relationships. It also supports older adults to stay in their own community, where they have a sense of belonging and connectedness, that may have been established for years. There are many individuals who may seek housing but due to a lack of available and affordable housing options, HomeShare could serve as a good solution. HomeShare can offer companionship, reduce isolation and provide safety and security for all.
Pedestrian Road Safety, Presented by Lisa Maychuk, Project Manager, Age Friendly Hamilton
This project is a partnership of the City of Hamilton (Age Friendly Hamilton, Public Works, and Public Health), Seniors Advisory Committee, Hamilton Council on Aging and McMaster University School of Rehabilitation Science. The goal of this project is to decrease the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Hamilton for senior road users. This project aims to: (1) raise awareness and develop skills among vulnerable road users (e.g. seniors pedestrians) about the use of pedestrian crossovers and signalized intersections; (2) increase the number of seniors who are using walking to get around their communities safely; and (3) decrease pedestrian injury and fatalities of vulnerable road uses (e.g. senior pedestrians). There are two key components of this project:
- Education and Skills Building Workshop- reaching 200 seniors by facilitating 10 workshops throughout greater Hamilton offered in various languages. Presentations include the benefits of walking, walking safely, rules of the road, and how to use the new crossovers using a prepared video. Various stations provide personalized measurement of gait and cadence under various conditions, and
- Awareness Building Campaign- educational and promotional materials were designed and distributed to approximately 500 seniors at community events and information fairs.
Let’s Get Moving, Presented by Shelagh Kiely, Project Co-ordinator, Hamilton Council on Aging
Let’s Get Moving is a project of the Hamilton Council on Aging , in partnership with the City of Hamilton, Seniors Recreation, City of Hamilton, Public Health Services, Seniors Advisory Committee, and SoBi Hamilton (Hamilton Bike Share.) Let’s Get Moving focuses on the lifelong enjoyment of sport and physical activity. It is designed to educate older adults on the mutual benefit of various forms of active transportation as a means of getting around and staying active, engaged, and healthy as we age!
Let’s Get Moving consist of 3 sets of 10 workshops for older adults including “Let’s Take a Bus”, “Let’s Take a Walk”, and “Let’s Ride a Bike”. Senior volunteers were trained as facilitators to deliver Let’s Get Moving Workshops in order to enhance the long term capacity for this program. Workshops will be at various locations in greater Hamilton and in different languages. Each workshop will include an educational presentation and an experiential component such as a bus ride, a walk or an opportunity to ride a bike. Participants were asked to complete an workshop evaluation and results will be shared along with lessons learned.
Seniors and Youth Working Together Toward an Age-Friendly Toronto, Presented by Lillian Well, Toronto Council on Aging.
This session discusses a program of the Toronto Council on Aging (TCA) in which senior and youth volunteers are paired to engage with local businesses, to share information about aging, the age-friendly movement and how businesses could enhance their services to older adults.
TCA is a community partner with the City of Toronto and sits on the Accountability Table for the implementation of its Seniors Strategy. The City focuses on its own services. TCA ‘s age-friendly initiatives focus on selected neighbourhoods, engaging local seniors, services, faith groups and businesses in working together. This program was grew out of suggestions by seniors and the neighbourhood committee’s action plan.
We will discuss the training workshops, the role of the program coordinator, how the seniors and youth evaluated their experience of working together as partners their meetings with managers of local businesses. The intergenerational volunteer teams used a simple checklist to assess the age-friendly features of the business. They prepared a report for each business, identifying positive aspects and suggested improvements. The evaluation of these reports will also be presented.
Writing Lives: A Case Study in Community Engagement and Intergenerational Learning, Presented by Michael Ackerman, Wilfrid Laurier University and Kathryn Poirier, Grand River Council on Aging.
This presentation will outline the development and results of a three-year experiment in intergenerational learning undertaken by Wilfred Laurier University (WLU) and the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA). Starting in 2014, the WLU English department in Brantford and the GRCOA partnered together to design and implement a three-stage pilot project that focused on pairing Laurier students with senior community members to study the genre of autobiography, or life writing.
In the first iteration, the community members came to the campus to attend the class. In the second iteration, the course was held off campus at the Beckett Adult Leisure Centre, and in the final iteration, students completed individual placements in one of three different retirement centres or long-term care facilities.
In the initial design, students and seniors were to meet each week and spend part of the time reading various autobiographies together, and use the remainder of the time working with each other to create their own autobiographical projects.
The primary objectives for running the pilot were:
- to enhance our students` learning experiences by including the opportunity for intergenerational dialogue;
- to contribute to the elders in our local population by providing a meaningful learning experience on our campus;
- to develop our existing partnership with the Grand River Council on Aging through a pilot of `joint programming`;
- to help combat ageism (both institutional and within the student body) by creating a structure for meaningful interaction to take place.
This workshop has three, interrelated, parts: in part 1, we will be sharing the incredible results (for both the students and the elders) that came out of these groups working together on their autobiographical projects. In part 2, we will be talking about how this partnership has formed, and how it might be useful as a model to encourage other post-secondary institutions to increase their inter-generational learning experiences and age-friendly programming. In part 3, we discuss “what went wrong” – and how those mistakes have shaped our approach going forward.