Enactus club students reflect on outreach to seniors this Family Day
Students in the Georgian Enactus club are connecting with socially isolated seniors in long-term care homes through an innovative project called Stories for Seniors. The project began this past November with a team member creating a personalized video story for a family member in a long-term care facility. The team quickly rallied, realizing there were many crucial lessons to be learned:
- Seniors and their family members miss being together
- Generations value one another and want to connect
- Social isolation continues to be a critical issue in communities, particularly in long-term care
“The idea for the project was a team effort,” says team member Emilie Ah-Fock. “At the start of each of our meetings, we check in with everyone to see how we’re doing during the pandemic. Feeling the effects of social isolation was a common theme. We all spoke about how we’re impacted and how much more difficult it must be for seniors.”
The team then brainstormed ideas on how they could help seniors virtually during the pandemic and determined that a video recording would be one way they could deliver messages to help lift their spirits. “Our faculty advisor Joanne Campagna shared a video she made for her father who’s in long-term care,” says Emilie. “This prompted a discussion on the power of storytelling, the commonalities of family and belonging, and the team empathized with students who are far from their extended families. With much enthusiasm and ideas for future expansion, the team decided it would be an easy way for us to make a difference for some seniors in long-term homes and the project was born.”
As of February 2021, the team has delivered six special video stories to seniors in long-term care. In addition, team member Dawn Boonstra has given each senior a handmade crocheted blanket in their favourite colours and with their name on it.
“It’s my hope that each blanket recipient will know I really enjoyed making them and they will not only feel the warmth from the material but also from my heart,” says Dawn, who is a part-time student in the Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (Management and Leadership) program. “My intent for personalizing each blanket with the seniors’ names and their favourite colours is to show each one that they’re all uniquely special.”
The blankets and video stories have been a huge hit and the seniors are very touched to know college students are thinking about them. Their family members are also very touched by the students’ initiative and expressed their gratitude.
“Thank you to these Georgian students for the lovely message and blanket,” says one family member. “All the handiwork and caring voices were a pathway from the solitude of rooms inhabited by seniors. All the stitches, voices and time were very much appreciated in the giving moments and going forward. When physical touching is not possible, the care shown is beyond measurable value.”
The team looks to expand the project in the near future.
Here’s a video Enactus team member Avery Thompson prepared for Joan, one of the seniors who enjoys sports and travelling:
And here’s Clara, another Stories for Seniors recipient, receiving her homemade blanket: