ANTIGONISH: A local bus program made a difference in the lives of a number of seniors recently.

Local resident Olivia Rossong said she saw an ad posted by the Seniors Getting Involved Association in the fall. She applied for the position to implement a program for seniors with Eastern Mainland Housing that would get seniors out and involved in the community.

“The big purpose was trying to establish a connection to transit [Antigonish Community Transit] and the goal would be to have them use it more on their own after the program,” she said.

Contributed photo
Between 40 and 50 people signed up for the Lesson on the Bus program, which saw seniors from the Antigonish area ride Antigonish Community Transit to various activities in the town and county.

Soon after Rossong got the job and established the Lessons on the Bus program, around 40-50 seniors registered. The program began on October 31 and included trips every Tuesday and Thursday until February 15, except for holidays. Participants had the chance to visit the Glenhill Berry Farm, hear various presentations, tour places such as the Knoydart Dairy Farm and Peace By Chocolate, as well as engage in physical activities like bowling and yoga.

“It was a one-time grant that was offered through the Age Friendly Communities Grant program, which is from the senior’s department,” she said. “Because of the feedback we’ve been getting and how well it went, there are hopes and talk of trying to find ways to make it either more of an ongoing program or receive at least another grant for it. It’s newly ended and we’re just seeing now how much people see it as a valuable program. I feel as though everybody involved in the project is trying to find ways to make it happen again.”

Contributed photo
Lessons on the Bus participants are seen here on one of their several outings in Antiognish County.

Rossong said participants also filled out a questionnaire after the program finished. The results showed most had not used Antigonish Community Transit before. However, the results also showed people would use transit again and take part in a similar program if it is offered in the future.

“It was ultimately the participants, with their support, openness, and sense of adventure that made this program into what it has become,” she said. “It’s my hope that they view the ending of this program as yet another beginning. I hope they’ll continue to venture out on the community transit bus, taking part in the various programs within the community, as well as see an ongoing bus program established in the future.”

She also pointed to the number of community groups that came together for the project – including Community Links, the Eastern Mainland Housing Authority, Antigonish Town and County Recreation, and the Senior Safety Program – as one of the reasons for the program’s success.