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Seniors’ Centre Without Walls to launch in Nipissing-Parry Sound District

Jun 16, 2020 | Cindy Males, Public Relations and Communications Specialist

The Village at Canadore College is partnering with the Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) and the Club Action 50+ East Ferris Group to support older adults in the Nipissing-Parry Sound District who are facing social isolation as a result of COVID-19. Funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program and Ontario’s Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility are helping to launch a Seniors’ Centre Without Walls Program to support seniors 55 years or older.

The OACAO, who supports older adult centres across Ontario, like the Club Action 50+ East Ferris group, is happy to support the first regional hub for the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls program. “The intergenerational component and partnership with Canadore College is unique,” said Sue Hesjedahl, Executive Director of the OACAO, “With funding from the Government of Ontario, we have been supporting clubs and Seniors Active Living Centres across Ontario with the training and implementation of the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls programs.

“During the pandemic, seniors’ centres and clubs closed their doors, and seniors were asked to self-isolate at home. Seniors’ Centre Without Walls creates an accessible and affordable way for seniors to stay connected with each other therefore reducing social isolation,” said Hesjedahl.

Seniors’ Centre Without Walls is a community outreach program designed to support vulnerable and isolated seniors and adults with physical disabilities who may find it difficult to leave home for extended periods of time due to financial constraints or mobility issues. Now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, older adults who might normally be active in the community but now are unable to leave their home, can benefit from this program. It is a phone-based program that allows people to dial-in using their home phones, free of charge, and connect to programming that includes music, trivia, or educational sessions.

This innovative approach is being provided by organizations across Ontario and Canada. The Village at Canadore College wants to take it in a new direction by creating a regional hub for adults 55 years or older using an intergenerational approach. This will provide ongoing placement opportunities for Canadore students in programs such as Recreation and Leisure Services, Social Service Worker, and Indigenous Wellness and Addiction Prevention programs to name a few. There will also be opportunities for older adults and students to socialize together. 

The president of the Club Action 50+ East Ferris Group, Lyne Way-White, contacted Canadore for support to implement a Seniors’ Centre Without Walls for club members. 

“Our club had been discussing the need to establish this program in East Ferris for the past year but with the COVID pandemic the isolation issue became more pressing,” said Way-White. “Finding someone to run this programming was now urgent.”

Reaching out to Canadore for student assistance proved to be a wonderful experience and is bringing this project to reality much sooner.  What started as a conversation to launch the program became the idea to create a regional hub. The Club Action 50+ East Ferris Group is the pilot group and has been testing the system.

“We will be reaching out to community groups, businesses and individuals to provide the 30- to 60-minute program sessions,” said Micheline McWhirter, The Village Collective Impact Project Manager at Canadore.  “After the testing phase is completed in July, a full calendar of events will be advertised, and anyone 55 or older will be able to register with Seniors’ Centre Without Walls and engage in free programming.”

The Village is a world-class health and wellness facility that is providing a ground-breaking approach to educating the next generation of Canada’s health and social service professionals.  It is the first facility of its kind in Canada and blends Indigenous, Eastern and Western health practices with student-led facilities.

To register for the program or for more information on The Village SCWW – Regional Hub, contact: Micheline McWhirter, Project Manager- The Village Collective Impact Project at or at 705-358-2829 or follow this link

The Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) has provided the following clarification:

Please note that this is not the first regional hub for Seniors' Centre Without Walls. The first regional hub is hosted in partnership with The Good Companions Seniors' Centre and United Way East Ontario (as part of the COVID-19 Regional Response Table's work). The Village at Canadore College is the only college to launch an intergenerational Seniors' Centre Without Walls regional hub.

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