Funding Will Support Intergenerational Connections and Learning at Conestoga

By Conestoga College Modified on April 18, 2022
Tags : Community | Health and Wellness

Conestoga College received a grant to create a new program that will create engagement opportunities for college students and people living with dementia.

 Funding Will Support Intergenerational Connections and Learning at Conestoga

Conestoga College is among three colleges that have been granted $611,720 from the Public Health Agency of Canada for the development of a new program that will create engagement opportunities for college students and people living with dementia (PLWD).

Intergenerational connections

The project, called Open Minds, Open Hearts, aims to create awareness and reduce stigma by fostering social cohesion and a sense of belonging between college students, PLWD and their care partners. The collaboration between the three colleges includes Richard Reich of the College of New Caledonia in British Columbia, Dr. Patrice Aubertin from École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) in Quebec, and Conestoga’s Dr. Veronique Boscart.

“This is a unique opportunity for students across Canada to create intergenerational connections while showcasing their experiences and expertise of their chosen field,” said Dr. Boscart, executive director of the Canadian Institute for Seniors Care at Conestoga College.

Developing initiatives to prevent dementia

The funding is part of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Dementia Strategic Fund: Awareness Raising Initiatives grant, which invited eligible organizations to develop initiatives that focused on how to prevent or delay the onset of dementia, reduce stigma and stigmatizing behaviours, and encourage and support communities to be more inclusive for PLWD.

How will students be involved?

Open Minds, Open Hearts will consist of student-led programs at each site. Each program aims to include up to 100 students and 50 PLWD and their caregivers who will participate in weekly engagement sessions led by students who will support activities. These intergenerational group activities will highlight various subjects including participation in culinary arts; celebrating culture, languages, and the arts; exploring nature and promoting physical well-being.

The project, which anticipates total participation from 1,800 students and 900 PLWD and their caregivers, is set to commence in the winter of 2022 and conclude in spring 2023.

Increasing awareness

“To increase external awareness, the project team plans to develop docu-films summarizing the learning outcomes that participants take away from the program,” added Boscart. “By creating these films, we hope to create awareness so that communities across Canada can be more inclusive for individuals with dementia and their caregivers.”

The Canadian Institute for Seniors Care focuses on developing innovative, evidence-informed education, improving workforce development, and strengthening care practices to support care for seniors and their care partners across Canada. The Institute is led by Dr. Veronique Boscart, CIHR/Schlegel Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in Seniors Care. The research chair is funded by the Natural Sciences Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Conestoga College, and Schlegel Villages. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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