Feb. 11, 2021Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University is partnered with Fairview Parkwood Communities (FPC) which will receive over $374,000 in funding over three years from the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) as part of a project funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. The funding will support new intergenerational learning experiences, with a specific focus on expanding virtual community service-learning and volunteer opportunities.
FPC will use the funding awarded to its Virtual Village project to pilot a collaborative model of community-university learning with Laurier where technology will be used to facilitate the development of meaningful relationships between students and older adults as they share their skills, knowledge and experiences.
During the pilot, student facilitators will be hired for placements at Fairview Mennonite and Parkwood Mennonite homes to provide recreational programming and social interactions for isolated residents. Residents will also be connected to other Laurier students in courses with community service-learning components.
“Our commitment to lead and innovate in experiential learning continually expands,” says Jan Basso, assistant vice-president: Experiential Learning and Career Development at Laurier. “This funding is not only an investment in student learning, but an example of the strength of university-community partnerships and the positive impact they can have on people’s lives.”
COVID-19 has revealed existing barriers and created new challenges for retirement and long-term care residents. FPC, comprised of two seniors’ communities in Waterloo and Cambridge, identified an opportunity to address barriers their residents have experienced in the midst of these challenges while leveraging Laurier’s commitment to experiential and community-engaged learning.
“We are honoured to partner with Wilfrid Laurier University and the Research Institute for Aging in this innovative initiative,” says Elaine Shantz, CEO of FPC.
“Partnerships are key to our success as we provide care and services to older adults; the intergenerational aspect brings vibrancy to our communities and the introduction of virtual programming keeps our residents connected with the broader community.”
By embedding remote placement engagements within relevant courses and programs, Laurier students can learn through practice in a virtual environment. The reality of continued social distancing for the foreseeable future creates a need to fill social and recreational programming gaps.
These virtual placements will give students a first-hand experience developing and coordinating meaningful support for residents learning how to engage in different aspects of their life using current technology.
Health studies and psychology students are already engaged in practicums and placements with FPC as a result of this grant. Laurier’s Community and Workplace Partnerships (CWP) team say this opens opportunities for students in kinesiology, theology, global citizenship, music and beyond to make meaningful, intergenerational connections over the next three years.
“Through the Virtual Village project, we will set the foundation for both groups to learn from one another,” says Lisa Jarvis, manager of CWP. “This will create a mutually beneficial environment that ultimately strengthens intergenerational relationships in our community.”
This funding is part of the Supporting Inclusion through Intergenerational Partnership project at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. SIIP includes a $1.3-million investment designed to address social isolation in older adults living with dementia and their care partners by creating opportunities to interact with young adults in the community.
The Virtual Village was one of four projects selected for funding.
Manager, Community and Workplace Partnerships
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