photo credit: LINKages Society of Alberta
LINKages Society of Alberta had a vision of enhancing their program offerings to Calgary's multicultural communities by linking diverse seniors with youth of diverse backgrounds. A Community Grant from the Calgary Foundation supported LINKages' Becoming Culturally Cool program, where unique, inter-generational practices were put in to play to help both young and old develop meaningful relationships.
Executive Director, Debra Armstrong, reports the program has been extremely well-received to date. "We've developed very successful partnerships with other organizations," comments Armstrong. "Everyone we have worked with has been open and receptive to our ideas."
Three initiatives were undertaken in the first phase of the Becoming Culturally Cool project:
- a Young at Heart Ismaili Intergenerational Initiative;
- a pilot program matching students at Father Lacombe High School with Clifton Manor Seniors Centre;
- and a collaboration with Immigrant Services Calgary to enhance LINKages' training and evaluation tools to be more inclusive and sensitive of cultural and language issues.
The partnership with Immigrant Services Calgary involved meetings centered on different themes, including food and music from a wide array of cultures. The younger participants even spent time teaching seniors computer skills. Armstrong describes a celebratory picnic where young and old from various ethnic backgrounds overcame language barriers to carry on conversations and share experiences.
The powerful stories that emerged from the LINKages program made an impact on all involved. The sharing of skills, knowledge and experience between old and young supported the organization's purpose of providing meaningful experiences across generations.
As a result of this project, LINKages hopes to have an advantage in cultural competencies and provide some of the most vulnerable groups in our society with the opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and get involved in their communities.