Building Bridges Together Annual Intergenerational Conference
Organization Sponsor: Elder Help-Peel
Organization Partner: Peel District School Board
The Annual Intergenerational Conference run since 1999 promotes open communication, collaboration and understanding between diverse seniors and youth of our community. Annually, 150 seniors and 150 youth from six high schools and two elementary schools in Peel Region meet and participate in the one-day conference.
Bringing seniors and young people together to talk to each other is important to dispel misconceptions and stereotyping, “There is a lot that seniors can teach young people. Old people have opinions about young people and vice versa; by coming together and talking, they build good communication and good working relationships.”
This understanding helps prevent elder abuse. Students had the opportunity to interact with senior citizens, share stories and laughs, as well as discuss the conference theme, “Elder Abuse.” Motivational speakers, educational videos, and an open questionnaire to both youth and seniors were a part of the conference program as they addressed problems and solutions regarding elder abuse.
Other themes presented at the conference included technology, fun, and games. Also noted: “Newcomer seniors face greater obstacles than seniors born in Canada. Often they arrive with few if any assets and their specific settlement needs are not immediately addressed. There is the assumption their children will take care of them.”
The event is free for participants.
Ontario Trillium Foundation provided funds the first year but the conference has taken place without regular funding.
Most of the conference is covered by in-kind contributions. It is held at local schools and Elder-Help Peel organizes it.
Since its beginning, over 3,000 youth and seniors have participated in this exchange. It is so well received that a long waiting list forms each year. It has been requested that it be held twice a year.
The feedback from participants has been extremely favourable.
Roman Aman, Director of Elder Help-Peel, is not actually sure why this conference is such a success. Both the seniors and the youth have such a wonderful time together.
A lunch is provided for all the participants, which costs around $3,000. This is the major challenge face by the conference committee.
This project began in 1999.