Sean Fraser, MP for Central Nova, chats with Liz Brennan (right), chair of Arts Health Antigonish, and Janette Fecteau, (left), prior to announcing a government investment of $30,000 for community-based programs in Antigonish for seniors living with dementia.

ANTIGONISH: Through the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), the Government of Canada said it continues to meet the needs of seniors by supporting initiatives that help them stay active and involved in their communities.

On July 22, Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova, announced an investment of $30,000 for community-based projects in Antigonish that will help seniors living with dementia attain social inclusion.

“Our government is contributing $30,000 towards two incredible community programs for seniors with dementia,” Fraser told The Reporter following the event. “One [contribution] was to Arts Health Antigonish to support their Arts Canopy program. The second announcement was to the MacLeod Group to allow them to pilot a program for seniors’ inclusion and volunteerism.”

The Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) Society is receiving $25,000 to develop arts based programming to seniors with dementia to support their social participation. The MacLeod Group is receiving $5,000 to create new programs and activities, and purchase materials to allow seniors with dementia to engage in meaningful activities.

“It is essential that we support seniors in our communities that are living with dementia, as well as their families,” Fraser said. “I have seen first-hand how participating in the arts can improve health and social outcomes for local residents. Investments like these are important because they support seniors’ inclusion so they can participate fully as integral members of our communities.”

Photos by Drake Lowthers — Liz Brennan, chair of Arts Health Antigonish, said she was thrilled with the federal government’s $25,000 investment in the Arts Canopy program helping seniors living with dementia enhance their social inclusion through participating in the arts.

Liz Brennan, chair of AHA! said the organization is thrilled with the federal government once again investing in Arts Canopy. Last year a partnership was born with StFX University helping the research community better understand the long-term impacts of seniors living with dementia who do participate in the arts.

Since October 2016, Arts Canopy has been providing arts-based programming in music, visual arts, dance/movement, and poetry for people with dementia. It addresses the mental well being of this growing population by providing meaningful ways for them to remain active, to retain their dignity, to encourage social engagement, to discover other ways of remembering, along with offering opportunities for creative expression.

“People who are participating are encouraged to find their best selves; we have offered close to 30 10-week programs over the last three years in music, visual arts, poetry, dance, and storytelling,” Brennan said. “Our funding will help explore if 25-week programs offer greater benefits than 10-week programs, to train new artist-facilitators, and creating a brochure for caregivers.”

Funding for this project is being provided by the government’s NHSP, which fosters social inclusion and engagement of seniors by encouraging them to share their knowledge, skills and experience to stay active and engaged.

Community-based projects are eligible to receive up to $25,000 in grant funding; approximately $35 million has been approved across Canada for NHSP community-based projects in 2018–2019. The funding supports activities that engage seniors and address one or more of the program’s five objectives: volunteering, mentoring, expanding awareness of elder abuse, social participation and capital assistance.