At Revera’s McKenzie Towne Care Centre in Calgary, Alta.,
it’s common to see residents huddled with young teens
or pre-teens. They might be swapping stories, working on
some activity, or perusing a stack of old photos. They’re
not family, but have developed a strong link.
LINKages is an Alberta based charity that aims to build bridges
between generations, and foster age-friendly communities. At
McKenzie Towne, LINKages brings students aged 12-14 in for
biweekly visits. Two students are paired with each resident. “The
idea is to build a relationship over the school year,” says Carmen
Wyatt, the development coordinator for LINKages. “We’re breaking
down stereotypes and combating ageism.”
Those stereotypes sometimes work both ways, she says. At first, the
students might not appreciate the experiences or outlooks of the
seniors. Likewise, some older adults might feel that young people
would be uninterested in older people.
Carmen says all participants learn that they have similar issues and
similar things that make them happy. The students and residents
both comment on how much more alike they are than what they
had imagined. As one student wrote, the lesson gained was “be
respectful to all seniors, because they can be just like us on the