Healthy communities encompass all age groups.
Working together on an intergenerational research study, 45 Brock students were recently matched with 20 Niagara seniors to better understand what makes a community “age-friendly.”
The study, “Through Their Eyes,” examined the age-friendliness of the neighbourhood surrounding Niagara Region’s Seniors Residence at 14 Centre Street in downtown St. Catharines.
The study aims to identify opportunities for change in the community.
“Getting our students out into community was a key component of enhancing their learning experience,” says Paula Gardner, course instructor and assistant professor of Health Sciences at Brock. “Through this community-based project we will not only understand what makes a healthy community, but we will also start to build one.”
With older residents serving as guides, students adopted the “go along” interview method, which combines in-depth interviews with participant observation. They also worked collaboratively with seniors to assess their neighbourhood.
“I learned a lot, not only about the processes and how to formulate change within communities,” says Elisa Brown, a third year Brock Medical Sciences student, “but also how to conduct research that has a social impact.”
Community Partners for the project include Niagara Regional Housing and Public Health, the 14 Centre Street Seniors Residence, Niagara’s Age Friendly Community Network and Niagara Connects. The study was part of the upper-year Health Sciences course, “Developing Healthy Communities” at Brock.
Brock’s Service Learning Resource Centre also provided a $1,500 Service-Learning Course Incentive grant to help enhance the service-learning components of this course.