L’ARDOISE: A new project aims to give seniors new and creative options for engaging with their communities.
Starting on November 13, Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre (DKMCHC) will offer free arts workshops to local adults over the age of 55.
“I think what we were basically looking for was a way to get more seniors involved in their communities, particularly those who aren’t involved with… the things that are generally available through seniors’ clubs,” said DKMCHC Chair, Dorothy Barnard.
The program will consist of three workshops designed to give seniors a creative outlet. A Zine workshop, facilitated by Dawn Ostrem, will allow participants to create personal, self-published magazines on a topic of their choice. Ostrem will also lead a PhotoVoice project, which will give participants the opportunity to learn photography basics while exploring an issue or theme in the community that they feel is important. The third project, Theatre for Development, facilitated by Adam Cooke, will allow participants to share their experiences through the production of a live theatre performance.
For some seniors, the workshops may provide an opportunity to engage with others. Barnard pointed out that activities that promote social connection can have many health benefits, such as reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure.
“I think one of the issues is that there’s a lot of hidden social isolation,” said Barnard. “There are people who would probably benefit from more relationships with other people in their area.”
The seniors will not be the only ones to benefit, however. Barnard hopes that the entire community will learn from what they create. She said the direction of the projects will be determined by the participants, and the finished products will be shared with the public. Feedback will be gathered from seniors throughout the process to help plan future projects.
“There’s an evaluation component built into those three projects,” said Barnard. “We’re trying to learn more about the lives of seniors in the area, and then to use that information to design more programs that are community-based.”
Barnard said that no prior experience is necessary for any of the workshops, and that the projects were inspired by other community programs that have been successful in the past.
“There is a body of literature to support that these ideas can help,” said Barnard. “I think [it helps] people feel more secure. They feel acknowledged as somebody who has worth. They also find out that there are ways that they can actually contribute, because humans like to give, not just receive.”
The project received funding through the New Horizons for Seniors Program. The DKMCHC has also been working closely with the Richmond County-based Coastal Arts and Culture Guild.
“I think hopefully it will be a new way to look at getting involved with the community, because the ultimate aim is to increase community health and wellness,” said Barnard.
Anyone interested in taking part is asked to contact Project Coordinator, Christine Oakley at 902-631-1000, or firstname.lastname@example.org.