In honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial, a unique partnership between the Trent School of Education and Professional Learning, the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS), and Community Care Peterborough is set to critically engage with the history of Peterborough city and county at seven upcoming events, beginning later this month.
Developed with a $10,000 funding grant from the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, the project is a collaboration between the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, Community Foundations of Canada, and the Government of Canada, and will be spearheaded by Community Care Peterborough.
Drawing on a deep connection with TCAS director, Dr. Mark Skinner, and his interest in rural voluntarism and social inclusion of seniors, as well as the School of Education’s alternative settings placement option for teacher candidates, Sharing Stories, Bridging Generations: Celebrating 150 Years of Canada was born.
“Community Care Peterborough has been a truly important partner going back to my first major research project at Trent,” said Professor Skinner. “This was an exciting opportunity to expand our longstanding intergenerational programming but we were missing a piece of the puzzle to make the project work. Happily, that missing piece turned out to be the School of Education here at Trent.”
“Teacher candidates at Trent are required to complete practicums in classrooms as part of their teacher development, but they may also choose an alternative placement opportunity,” explained Dr. Cathy Bruce, dean of the School of Education at Trent. “This is an exciting option for our teacher candidates who will draw on oral history techniques with the guidance of School of Education faculty member Rachael Nicolls, and Trent professors’ emeriti Drs. Elwood Jones, John Wadland and Alan Brunger as well as other community members, to explore our local and regional histories. The students will then develop short, interactive talks that will be delivered during seven separate luncheons organized by Community Care Peterborough.”
The end result is a victory for all involved. With fewer people living in extended families, and the challenges associated with Peterborough’s rural geography, seniors in this community are especially vulnerable to isolation. They tend to feel its effects more keenly than others. A lack of connection to community creates conditions that foster depression, addiction, and illness. For more than 20 years, Community Care Peterborough has been organizing monthly teas and luncheons for area seniors so they might have the opportunity to socialize and improve their wellbeing and health. In 2016 alone, luncheons in Aspley, Chemung, Harvey, Lakefield, Havelock, Norwood and Millbrook attracted 800 people who enjoyed some 5,200 meals. Past intergenerational programming has seen record turnout so there is great potential for these student-led talks to be hugely successful.
“This project sets a framework for young people to consider meaningful dialogue with older community members,” said Catherine Pink, director of Support Services, Community Care Peterborough. “A discussion of Canadian history, local highlights, mixed with the personal storytelling of our clients will make for a really good time and, hopefully, provide a lasting connection between these diverse groups. Who knows, maybe some of the students will be inspired to volunteer with us long term.”
The Sharing Stories, Bridging Generations luncheon series will be offered from April 18 to 26 and again in October 2017 at sites across Peterborough County. To find an event near you, go to Community Care Peterborough or the Trent School of Education for all the details.