Federal program funds Facebook experiences, music performances by seniors and the young and a shared social story-telling event with immigrants.
It’s always a joy to see older people out and active in their community. With their life experience and the wisdom that experience brings, they have much to teach their neighbours and fellow citizens. That’s why I’m pleased to report the New Horizons for Seniors program is again offering funds for projects led and inspired by this older generation of citizens.
The program has five main tasks:
• To promote volunteerism among seniors and other generations,
• To engage seniors in the community, through the work of mentoring younger Canadians,
• To expand public awareness of the difficulties seniors face, including elder abuse,
• To supporting social participation, and
• To provide monetary assistance to new and ongoing community projects.
This past year, the program has had great success in each of these areas. I was delighted to hear about some of the volunteering opportunities inviting seniors to use their skills to aid other people in the community.
The Day Hospice Outreach program that received funding through the New Horizons for Seniors program brought experienced seniors into the community to provide hospital patients with a home-like setting where they could go for a day of relaxation, support and companionship. These people were glad to donate their time to create hospitality for those needing care.
New Horizons funding was also used to connect local and immigrant seniors. Language, cultural, and social barriers were broken when these seniors came together to share stories and common experiences and to build friendships in a project aimed at alleviating the feelings of isolation that recent immigrants can endure.
Program funds also supported many seniors in developing new skills. One such initiative put computers in the hands of older people, with instructors guiding them on accessing information through the Internet. It gave these people a familiarity with this long-elusive technology and a new feeling of achievement to use Facebook to connect with their loved ones online.
Another wonderful project brought community seniors together to celebrate and create music with local young people. Seniors and the young together shared the thrill of participating in a performance group. Some seniors had skills to share with the group; others were there to learn. Everyone involved was glad to provide their neighbours with a new listening experience.
All these activities take on the noble task of breaking down age barriers and improving the quality of life for the community.
I wait with excitement to see what new programs and activities will arise this year thanks to the fresh opportunities being opened up by the program. Application deadline for community-based projects is June 29, 2012. For more information about the call for proposals, please visit hrsdc.gc.ca/seniors.
Joyce Bateman is federal MP for South Winnipeg.