Volunteer Terrace looking to connect youth and seniors

The organization is applying for a grant that would pay for the inter-generational project

Volunteer Terrace is hoping a successful application to the New Horizons for Seniors Program can lead to the creation of inter-generational project between youth and seniors here.

Volunteer Terrace is making a bid to receive money from the federal government so it can establish a new program connecting Terrace’s young people and senior citizens.

According to Jessica Gaus of Volunteer Terrace, the point of this inter-generational project would be to get young people and seniors to share skills, knowledge and experience with one another.

Gaus is the senior’s program coordinator for Volunteer Terrace and has been busy applying for the grant this month. The federal grant program is called the New Horizons for Seniors Program and the deadline for application is July 29.

If Volunteer Terrace’s application is successful, it will receive up to $25,000 in order to promote volunteerism among seniors and younger generations.

Perhaps most importantly, the money will be used to support the social participation and inclusion of seniors in Terrace.

“It has to be led or inspired by seniors, that is one of their key requirements,” Gaus said.

In order to facilitate this, Gaus said Volunteer Terrace has been connecting with other community partners here, such as the Happy Gang  Centre for Seniors and the Better at Home Advisory Committee, to brainstorm ideas for the project.

Much of the proposed project has been decided already, Gaus said.

For example, one idea for the project would be to have seniors teach other isolated seniors, as well as youth in the community, how to cook.

She also said another workshop could involve youth teaching seniors technology skills, like using Facetime, Skype or email on an iPad. The program would ideally provide the seniors with iPads that they could then keep after the training workshop.

Gaus said she believes it would be beneficial to put youth into a educational role like this because it would teach them valuable communication skills. And for the seniors, learning more about technology might help them stay better connected to their community.

“We’re hoping they get something out of this,” Gaus said. “Besides this being a meaningful project, I really hope that what comes out of this is that it’s sustainable and that at the end of this project something similar continues on.”

The City of Terrace has agreed to write a letter on behalf of Volunteer Terrace recommending it receive grant money from the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Councillor Michael Prevost said if Volunteer Terrace was to receive the grant, it would be a useful addition to the city’s current focus on supporting healthy aging in the community.

“The program being proposed by Volunteer Terrace can be one way to work towards helping two populations in our community better understand one another’s shared role in creating a healthy community,” Prevost said.

The Greater Terrace Healthy Communities Committee has recently issued a confidential survey for residents 50-years-old or older to help promote healthy aging in the community and learn more about the challenges facing an aging population.

While the application deadline is coming up, Volunteer Terrace will not find out whether it will receive the grant until March 2017.

Gaus said she imagines that if the application is successful, the project will start off with around 10 participants made up of five youth and five seniors.

Her hope is that the project can continue on in some capacity because of how vital it could be to the community.

“I have found that we live in a very age-segregated society and that we’re getting more and more that way,” Gaus said. “There’s so much to learn between generations that we’re losing.”