Age Friendly Lower Columbia initiative seeks feedback

Seven local governments have joined together to look at seniors’ activities and support services in the region.

Seven local governments have joined together to look at seniors’ activities and support services in the region to determine what is going well, and what is missing.

The Age Friendly Lower Columbia (AFLC) initiative is trying to connect with seniors to find out what services are available to them and asking them what else they would like to see in the hopes of creating or enhancing community programs.

Through questionnaires and presentations to groups of seniors, organizers are hoping to gain information that will help shape seniors’ services in the future. The project’s theme is “for seniors with seniors” and areas of focus include social, advocacy, health, sports and education.

Rossland, Trail, Warfield, Fruitvale, Montrose and RDKB Areas A and B are all part of the partnership and Columbia Basin Trust is providing funding. Program coordinator Sandi McCreight, who is well known throughout the region for her seniors’ advocacy work including the Seniors’ Support & Outreach program in Castlegar, has already been meeting with seniors as part of the project.

“Seniors wants and needs are very diverse and vary by age, mobility, interests, etc.,” she explained. “What we’ve found in the feedback so far is very diverse between communities too.”

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore hopes that this project might be replicated by other communities in the future; just as successful seniors’ programs in the Beaver Valley were part of the inspiration for the AFLC project.

“I talk to seniors in the community and there isn’t that much going on,” said Moore. “I have been to a number of gatherings in Beaver Valley, and I see the turnout and the vibrancy of the group We’re missing that in our other communities.”

Public meetings in Rossland, Warfield and Trail have revealed some similarities such as the desire for a contact person for seniors such as an advocate or outreach person. They also would like to see social opportunities like coffee or lunch groups with options for various levels of games or activities.

“All areas report the need for opportunities to be social and connect to each other and service providers,” said McCreight.

“This is a wonderful project,” added McCreight. “I believe that two of the key factors leading to its success will be utilizing input from the age 55-plus citizens to determine priorities for each area, and the partnership between the Columbia Basin Trust and the local governments. Commitment by our elected officials is key in making these initiatives realities.”

Moore agrees, “You have to have commitment from funders and commitment from local governments… to make it happen.”

Questionnaires can be picked up and dropped off at Trail, Warfield and Rossland municipal offices and pharmacies and the Genelle Store. Online, the questionnaires are available on the City of Rossland’s website, rossland.ca. The deadline for submissions is April 6.

Groups that would like a facilitated discussion can call McCreight at 250-365-7678 or email her at agefriendlylowercolumbia@gmail.com to arrange for her to attend their event.