Three leaders: Tom Farrell (Victoria Beach), Joie Van Dongen (Stonewall), Doreen Stapleton (RM of Harrison Park); provide perspectives on leadership in community organizations. Leadership can come in many forms and from many people. There are a multitude of opportunities to develop new skills and abilities and to provide leadership to an organization, whether it be in roles of governance, of leading groups or of offering up a talent for the teaching of others. Discussing leadership qualities, where to find good leaders, the role(s) of good leadership, and the importance of clarity of expectations in leadership and followership are among the topics raised in the discussion.
Doreen Stapleton (Sandy Lake) and Joie van Dongen (Stonewall) as Chairs of Age Friendly committees in their respective rural Manitoba communities talk about the essential roles played by AF committees large and small, and of the importance of the work being done by AF Committees, both in current times but also for future generations. Dispelling the myth that AF is only focused on older people, Doreen talks about the importance for the whole community of all ages. She outlines how with the AF initiative, the AF committee does not have to do it all, and in fact their prime role is to initiate change. She says that Age Friendly can also be a verb… we can all BE age friendly….and be more inclusive of all ages within the community. Joie concludes that when you design for the young, you exclude the old, when you design for the old you include the young.
Two speakers, Shirley Kalyniuk (Rossburn) and Samantha Rodeck ( Ile des Chenes) discuss the importance of affordable , available and accessible transportation for older adults to their health, well being , and to the basic dignity of being an active member in their community. The need to plan ahead for those future times when one may not be able to drive, the sense of dignity that comes from a certain degree of independence and the need to consider transportation options for people and the importance of taking the time to care now.
The role of being actively involved in community is a determinant of health. Opening the door to being involved may be a scary thing, but the importance to personal well being and quality of life is essential for older persons. Susan Sader (Winnipeg), and Brenda Tonn (Plumas)outline how getting involved in community programs and activity increases confidence and vitality in people and of how staying engaged in community can be a life saving action for older people , as well as being a service to family members who feel comfortable knowing that older relatives and friends , are safely engaged in programs.
Let No One Be Alone – Our social connectedness is a determinant of health. We all have the power to make a positive change in the lives of others; the gift of time can save lives! Reach out to someone with genuine care and concern and see what great things can happen!
For several years the Elementary School in Onanole, MB has been working with older adults in the community to both enhance the school year program as well as the quality of life in the community. One the highlights of this intergenerational activity is the Elders dance, whereby, the older adults of the community and the students get together several times over the year to teach and to learn from one another, old time dances… the waltz, the polka, the shostiche, and the butterfly. The whole program culminates in a formal evening in May at the local community center known as the Elders dance, whereby the students undertake organizing the program, the food, and the activity. With support from the local businesses, musicians, and parents, the evening has been a marvelous success in many ways. The Principal, Pam Ryzner, the AF Committee chair Doreen Stapleton, and various students, and older adults comment on the fun, joy and benefits of this great intergenerational activity.
Moving forward together in Community, a daylong workshop held in Portage la Prairie involved leadership from thirteen (13) communities to learn, to share and to grow in understanding of those factors that enhance the quality of life for citizens as they age in community. The panel of three community leaders; Tom Farrell from Victoria Beach and President of the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres; Joie van Dongen, Chair of Age Friendly committee in Stonewall; and Linda Little, Councilor from Hamiota outline their perspectives as to the factors that help people to age well in their community, as well as the challenges that exist at the community level that might impinge on aging well.