A pioneer in its field in Quebec that was founded in 1992, the Maison des Grands-Parents de Villeray fosters intergenerational connections. This unique centre helps men and women of all ages and from different nationalities come together and learn. Through its activities, this community agency helps weave both the social and family fabric.
The intergenerational workshops encourage people to share their knowledge, values and traditions. This intermingling breaks the isolation of seniors and allows them to fully participate in society. The program includes reading, homework assistance, knitting, cooking, and an intercultural component. Every effort is made to promote inclusion, mutual aid, and support for families and children.
A year of turmoil, but one of sharing, mutual aid and support
Although some health constraints made it difficult to organize these workshops, small acts of kindness sprouted up throughout the neighbourhood. These gestures helped seniors keep busy and feel useful and, of course, feel appreciated by their community.
Here’s how the close ties between the Maison des Grands-Parents de Villeray, volunteer seniors, youth and families have been strengthened:
For small children
Before the pandemic, story hour was held at family daycares and early childhood centres in the neighbourhood. These early reading activities let little ones spend some enjoyable times with older people. When COVID-19 hit, some of these seniors continued to read to their regular youngsters over Zoom.
For young people
Young people experiencing academic problems get help with their schoolwork. These students are recommended by their teachers and are paired for the school year with one or two volunteers, most of whom are seniors. Homework assistance has continued online in some cases.
A map was created of where seniors in the neighbourhood live. Staff organized get-togethers in parks with two or three seniors at a time who live near each other so that everyone could chat, break their isolation, and connect with others.
For seniors and youths
A pen-pal project was launched between seniors and young adults going back to school. These youths who go to the Centre Ste-Croix are working to get a diploma, pursue CEGEP or vocational training, or learn to read and write. The project lets them share experiences, establish meaningful connections, break down generational stereotypes and prejudices, improve their French, and sharpen their writing skills.
And many more initiatives:
- Deliveries of groceries, masks, books and games, wool and knitting needles, etc.
- Laptops donated to Centraide by a company and distributed to vulnerable seniors or families without a computer at home.
- Computer courses given online.
- Virtual talks on a variety of topics affecting seniors.
- Homemade cakes and greeting cards delivered to the doors of senior volunteers on their birthdays, which was often their only gift.