Senior engagement draws a solid group to share their ideas

Above: The Town of Morinville’s FCSS Department held a community engagement session for older adults and seniors on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Sixty-eight residents 55 and older came out to provide their input into activities and support for seniors. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe with files from Lucie Roy

Morinville’s Family and Community Supports Services (FCSS) Department held an engagement session on Thursday, Jan. 25, to help shape community programs for older adults and seniors. Titled Your Community – Your Ideas, the event drew 68 adults 55 and older to share those ideas.

One of the presenters for the evening was Brian Sawyer from Men’s Sheds, an organization that builds spaces and connections for men across the province. 

The concept started 30 years ago in Australia. The shed in Men’s Sheds means a gathering place that provides a place to go, something to do, and someone to talk to. 

The philosophy is that men communicate better shoulder to shoulder, and the gathering place provides an outlet for men to connect while working on projects that benefit the community. Some projects have included building dog houses for SCARS, renovating community halls, and other beneficial projects.

Currently, there are 100 Men’s Sheds in Canada in five provinces. There are currently 17 in Alberta, including seven in the Capital region.

A Town of Morinville facilitator sat at each table to record participants’ thoughts on various topics. Moderators asked six questions about men’s health, health and wellness, intergenerational programming, general social programming, volunteering, and caregiving. Moderators allocated ten minutes per topic for discussion. The Town will compile a summary of the notes. 

Before the Jan. 25 event, FCSS Adult & Senior Programmer Kathleen Cesarin said engaging older adults (50+) and seniors at their current points of interest is crucial in understanding their preferences and enhancing community involvement.

Organizers feel the evening was a success.

“We consider this event a success based on the impressive attendance and the high level of participant engagement,” said Tracy Dalzell-Heise, Manager, Communications and Legislative Services. “The exit surveys also provided positive feedback about the event.”

Dalzell-Heise said although the Town is still in the process of compiling and evaluating all the feedback, the initial observations indicate a significant exchange of ideas. “Our facilitators have also reported that their groups showed great enthusiasm, actively sharing ideas and expressing excitement about being involved in the process,” she explained. 

Dalzell-Heise said a What We Heard report to share with the engagement participants is forthcoming. “We are currently finalizing the timeline and the format of this report. This feedback, along with other inputs, will be instrumental in shaping our programming plan for late 2024 and 2025.”

Brian Sawyer from Men’s Sheds, an organization that builds spaces and connections for men across the province, speaks to seniors about the program at the engagement session on Thursday, Jan. 25. – Stephen Dafoe Photo


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