Written by: Ellen Ryan and Bill Johnston
Hamilton Aging in Community and The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton are pleased to announce that our application to the Seniors Community Grant Program was successful. We have received a small grant from the Ontario Government.
This grant is supporting our Resilient Aging in Community project activities until March 31st, 2021. The aim of the project activities is to create and deliver virtual educational and intergenerational activities to foster resilience among seniors to achieve their desired quality of life both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will also focus on enhancing social connectedness, facilitating independence for seniors in Hamilton and creating awareness and discussions about supportive housing options for local seniors as they age.
Specifically, multi-week sessions will be held on resilient aging, healthy housing, life writing and aging with spirit. One-time events will be presented on topics such as hospitality, creativity, affordable housing, age-friendly planning and mutual support. Sessions will be interactive, with facilitated breakout groups. We will also modify our e-Blast about Aging in Community events (distributed to 2,000-plus recipients) to draw attention to topical issues, especially regarding socially connected housing options that promote autonomy (eg, co-housing, co-ownership, home sharing). We will record selected Zoom sessions to make them available on YouTube and the Hamilton Aging in Community website and other uses consistent with the project.
We recently wrapped up our Intergenerational Memoir and Letters to Seniors activities in December as part of this project. For the Intergenerational Memoir activity students connected with seniors via Zoom, email or telephone to assist seniors to record and compile life stories as memoirs. This activity was very well received by seniors, with many expressing gratitude for having the opportunity to be involved with the younger generation and for having someone to help them create a valuable piece of writing that could be shared with their loved ones. You can read more about the fall memoir project here. Hamilton Aging in Community will be matching the second group of seniors and students for the winter semester Intergenerational Memoir activity.
For the Letters to Seniors activity student volunteers created handwritten cards and artwork that were given to residents at local long-term care facilities. Many seniors and students felt that this was a very rewarding activity. One student said, “Letters to Seniors was the most rewarding thing I did during 2020. It gave me an opportunity to still make a difference in my community when that felt almost impossible to do during a global pandemic.”
One of the upcoming events will be a virtual symposium on affordable seniors’ housing. This event will be planned and hosted in partnership with Cohousing Hamilton and it will offer an opportunity for attendees to learn about solutions to the challenge of affordable housing for seniors being used in Canada and around the world. Cohousing Hamilton is currently working to bring a cohousing community to Hamilton by 2024. To learn more about Cohousing Hamilton here.
Hamilton Aging in Community and The First Unitarian Church will be conducting these activities with our collaborators including; the Hamilton Council on Aging, McMaster University, Student Open Circles, the Grace Lutheran Church, the Hamilton Public Library and the Muslim Association of Hamilton.
Check out our Events page for more information on upcoming activities and events supported by this grant.