RIA announces $1.3M in funding for community programs supporting intergenerational partnerships

The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) is pleased to announce over $1.3 Million has been awarded to community projects in Waterloo Region supporting older adults living with dementia.

Supporting Inclusion through Intergenerational Partnership (SIIP) is a five-year project at the RIA 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 SIIP project, which is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, put out a call for proposals looking for community organizations that work in partnership with other community agencies to find innovative ways to connect generations.

Four projects were selected for funding and will be delivered over the course of the next three years, making adaptations to deliver programs virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each takes a unique approach to build a community of belonging for youth and older adults living with dementia:

Support through the generations, African Family Revival Organization in partnership with Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region

This project seeks to reduce social isolation among New Canadian/Black/African Origin older adults living with dementia. Youth will be paired with older adults by an Intercultural System Navigator and participate in cultural activities such as music, singing, traditional outfits, food, and oral traditions. The Navigator will also support older adults and their care partners to identify and connect with other resources and supports in the community.

The Virtual Village, Fairview Mennonite Homes and Parkwood Mennonite Home in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University-Community & Workplace Partnerships

Student facilitators from Wilfrid Laurier University will be hired for virtual placements at Fairview Mennonite and Parkwood Mennonite homes to provide virtual programming and social interaction for isolated residents. These virtual experiences will give students’ opportunities to develop and coordinate these virtual experiences and support residents in learning how to use technology, while providing much needed social connections for both age groups.

Taking interest in People, Conestoga College in partnership with Eastwood Collegiate Institute

This project will bring together college and high school students, faculty, community partners, and people living with dementia and care partners for a self-led 10-week program with virtual, guided group activities. Each session will include activities such as storytelling, demonstration of a skill, sharing of experiences, anecdotes, and guided activities to support meaningful social interactions, foster leadership and team-building skills, and guide students in reflecting on their views of aging and living with dementia.

Sharing our voices, Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington in partnership with The Waterloo Public Library and YMCA of Three Rivers

This project will bring older adults and youth together with a focus on improving the understanding of dementia in the youth of today. Highschool students and older adults living with dementia will engage in social/recreational activities together, collaborate to create an art piece, which will share their voices and lived experiences, and participate in a storytelling film sharing their voices, experiences and history.

“We are thrilled to see the variety of projects being funded through SIIP,” said Josie d’Avernas, RIA executive director. “Many older adults, particularly those living with dementia, experience social isolation and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this worse for many. As funding goes to these projects, we hope to see connections built and communities strengthened through intergenerational partnerships.”

Mona Loffelmann, African Family Revival Organization founder and executive director, is excited to see the impacts of this funding. “The African Family Revival Organization is honoured to have been selected to engage in this project. Through this funding we will be able to support Black and newcomer communities in Waterloo Region to build intergenerational links between youth and older adults with dementia, along with complimentary social, emotional, and system navigation supports. This program will help us to help our community, will reduce social isolation, and create opportunities for people across the age spectrum.”

To learn more about the SIIP project, any of the funded projects, and how you can get involved visit the SIIP website: www.intergenerationalpartnerships.ca.

Supporting Inclusion through Intergenerational Partnership (SIIP) is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.