Local school kids and seniors will become pen pals this year in a new project aiming to bridge the gap between generations in Penticton.
Approximately 50 students from KVR Middle School will start off writing letters to seniors at Cherry Park Retirement Residence, building toward virtual meetings and online games.
It's part of an ongoing City of Penticton push toward becoming an "age-friendly' city.
"We’ve been hearing feedback that older adults are worried about the coming winter and feelings of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Penticton social development specialist Adam Goodwin.
“We’re thrilled these classes are taking initiative to provide social interaction and taking the time to learn about the older adult community in Penticton.”
The city launched its age-friendly campaign on Oct. 13, encouraging residents to share their ideas and photographs about how Penticton can become welcoming and inclusive for seniors. The city reached out to School District 67 with a teacher’s guide informing educators about the online project.
“We welcome this opportunity for our students to connect with our larger community. We have seen a huge increase in student social conscience recently and many are just looking for an opportunity to exercise this. I can’t think of a better way than for our youth to dialogue with seniors and hear their thoughts on the strengths and stretches of what our community offers. It’s an opportunity for them to build relationships, gain perspective and have a voice,” said Steve DeVito, principal of KVR Middle School.
Anyone can submit their ideas and feedback online at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca until Nov. 27, or in person at kiosks at city hall and the Penticton Library.
Mignonne Wood, president of the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Centre Society, encourages everyone to participate.
“We are being given the opportunity to provide feedback on what works for seniors, what doesn’t work for seniors and how areas of concern might be addressed. This chance to have a voice should not be missed as the issues, suggestions and ideas presented will help the city improve its support for seniors in our community," Wood said.
Data collected will help the city prepare its Age-Friendly Action Plan as it moves forward with plans to become recognized by the Province of B.C. as an age-friendly community.
Seniors residences interested in taking part in the pen-pal letters project can email [email protected]