Seniors of Canada: Hamilton*

Seniors of Canada: Hamilton*

Age is just a number: shedding light on the everyday older person. *The name Seniors of Canada is intended for long-term purposes. We believe that this project has national potential; however, the focus of this project during the 2017-2018 timeframe will be a pilot project taking place in the greater McMaster community of Hamilton, ON in order to more fully develop and understand the potential impact of this project in the community. Therefore, the working title for this segment of the project will be: Seniors of Canada: Hamilton, as we intend to form and elicit the ideas of a collaborative group comprised of older adults living in Hamilton to discuss the appropriateness of the suggested.

Details

What is your project about?

In our ever-growing technologically-mediated society, there is little formal communication between generations. Contemporary society has become age-segregated, providing very few opportunities for social interaction, leading to the intensification of negative stereotypes for older and younger age groups (e.g. younger people believe that older adults do not know how to use the internet). The social divide between younger and older adults can contribute to social exclusion among older adults.  In 2010, the Humans of New York (HONY) began as a photography project with the goal of photographing 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and eventually creating a catalogue of the city’s inhabitants. Along the way Brandon Stanton, the creator of HONY, began interviewing his subjects including quotes and/or short stories from their lives alongside their portraits. Brandon then continued to distribute these stories and pictures through social media (i.e. Instagram, Facebook). HONY has made a great impact around the globe with its simplistic take on everyday life through the images of everyday people on the streets of New York. The images of everyday people on the streets of New York have provided a worldwide audience with a glimpse into the lives of strangers, thus giving rise to the ‘everyday human'. In this light, many places including McMaster, has adopted this approach, specifically titled, ‘Humans of McMaster’ a similar project with the goal to take a look at the “everyday” student at McMaster. Humans of McMaster now has over 8,000 followers on social media.

Following the models of Humans of New York and Humans of McMaster, The Gilbrea Student Group believes that the idea of portraying older adults “as they are” would be an ideal medium to combat ageism, and overcome common age stereotypes including positive/negative binaries that impact the younger generation today regarding the ageing population. Creating a HONY-type project (Seniors of Canada) within Hamilton, specifically featuring older people, and targeting, but not limited to, the younger generation through social media, could provide a great foundation for an awareness campaign shedding light on “everyday” older people. In doing so, this community project will contribute to enhanced age relations within the Hamilton community, and work towards achieving the inclusive and age-friendly status that the City of Hamilton has specified in their Plan for an Age-Friendly City

What are you going to do?

This project, Seniors of Canada: Hamilton will serve as an initial pilot project to establish our name in the community and form relationships with seniors in the metro-Hamilton area. We anticipate this project will provide an outlet for seniors to express themselves in a way that is genuine and free of judgment. It will also serve as a way for their voices to be heard by their community. We will create social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram) and envision that this grant will support 3 key events/activities/steps to help us to launch the Seniors of Canada social media campaign.

 First, we plan to hold an event with older adults from Hamilton to begin to build relationships and gather content for the campaign. At this event, we will invite seniors from the Gilbrea SHARE (Seniors Helping Advance Research Excellence) group to meet with students from our group to gather feedback regarding the scope of the project and name of the project including to gather our people who would potentially be interested in taking part in the project. This will help establish our ties with the community, enhancing the collaborative intergenerational nature of the project.

Second, we will invite older people to tell their stories, take photographs, engage in intergenerational sharing and work with this initial information to build content for the social media campaign.

Third, we plan to do a launch event to which we would invite the older people who took part, the members of The Hamilton council on Aging, members of the Health, Aging and Society department including the members of the Gilbrea Centre for Studies on Aging (and more) to present the photos and stories in form of a photo-exhibit. We will also provide photo books or pamphlets to give back to the older people and members who participated.We also expect that the photo exhibit event will foster these intergenerational relationships within the Hamilton community.

Why are you doing it?

As graduate students in the field of aging, we often find ourselves so immersed in the theoretical and empirical content of our field, that the very subject of our interest—older people—becomes peripheral to our everyday work. Importantly, it has recently come to our attention that with the growing population age, innovative initiatives to tackle the intergenerational gap have yet to be made. By providing snapshots of the everyday lives of Hamilton’s older people, beyond their aging bodies, beyond their illness, beyond the picturesque ideals promoted by the aging enterprise, one will be able to view what seniors really look like and hear their stories, in a manner void of negative or positive connotations. This project is important because it provides an opportunity for collaboration and engagement across generations, campus and community structures in Hamilton, including the graduate students from various departments, the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging and the department of Health, Aging & Society and the Psychology department. This project highlights the importance of conversations surrounding aging and engages younger generations in discussions that they may not normally engage in regarding the aging population. 

How are you going to do it?

Event #1: We will invite all Gilbrea SHARE members to the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging to gather feedback regarding the scope of the project name of the project and to gather information regarding people who would potentially be interested in taking part in the project. This event will also mark the beginning of the social media campaign (i.e. creation of social media accounts, Facebook, Instagram) we will then start promoting through these accounts  including local newspapers (Hamilton Spectator etc.).

 

Event #2 The second event will allow us to engage with seniors in the community and begin the picture/storytelling process.  To begin we will be renting media equipment from the Lyons media center here at McMaster University. Specifically, we will be renting cameras for the second and third events. We will then ask our seniors to provide a quote or a story about himself or herself, as seen in our attached image. Stories or quotes could be something that they talk about at the event on that day, what community means to them, what they feel is important to pass along to younger generations, or how Hamilton has changed over their lifetime (not exhaustive list).

 

Event #3: At our final event we will showcase the pictures and stories taken by printing them and displaying them in the Gilbrea Centre for Studies and Aging. We will invite the members of The Hamilton council on Aging, members of the Health, Aging and Society department including the members of the Gilbrea Centre for Studies on Aging (and more). As a thank-you we would also like to create a photo book or pamphlet that we will distribute to the partaking members at the photo exhibit.  

 

Ethical considerations are key to this project. We will have the individuals who agree to have their picture taken sign a release form and a consent form acknowledging that the individual consenting understands that their picture and quote will be posted on the social media and website associated with Seniors of Canada: Hamilton. 

What results do you expect?

Over the span of 5 years, HONY has grown to over 20 million followers on social media and has published two bestselling books Humans of New York and Humans of New York Stories. We expect that Seniors of Canada: Hamilton will

  • Develop a following on social media throughout Hamilton
  • Bring attention to the Hamilton community
  • Widely disseminate images of everyday seniors, with an added voice from their quotes
  • Promote a bridge to intergenerational social relations

Social sustainability has increasingly become the focus of policymakers across the globe, with a great focus on intergenerational solidarity. This project will hopefully be a step towards bridging the growing gap between the two-generations. We also expect that all events including the photo exhibit will foster these intergenerational relationships within the Hamilton community. By creating a photo book that will be distributed to the partaking members at the photo exhibit, we will also enhance our presence in the community leading to further development of the project. This project, we believe, has national potential; however, the focus of this project during the 2017-2018 timeframe will be a pilot project to fully develop and understand the potential impact of this project in the community and its wider implications for the intergenerational relationships across all communities in Canada. 

Involvement

Stephanie Hatzifilalithis / Social Sciences/ Social gerontology, Health, Aging & Society, 2020, (Lead)

Rachel Weldrick / Social Sciences/ Social gerontology, Health, Aging & Society, 2019, (Co-Lead) 

Jessica Pace/ Social Sciences/ Social gerontology, Gilbrea Centre for Aging studies, 2017, (Facilitator) 

Kelsey Harvey / Social Sciences / PhD Social Gerontology, Health, Aging, & Society, 2020, (Treasurer, To be determined) 

Alison McNeil / Social Sciences / PhD Social Gerontology, Health, Aging, & Society, 2020 (Collaborator)

Kathleen Oliver/ Science/ Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, 2018, (Collaborator) 

Stefania Cerisano/ Science/ Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, 2021, (Collaborator) 

Catherine Dyer, Social Sciences/ Social gerontology, Health, Aging & Society, 2018 (Collaborator)

Rachel Estok, Social Sciences/ Social gerontology, Health, Aging & Society, 2017 (Collaborator)

All Gilbrea Student Group members (Committee members)

These members include masters students / phd/ and post doc students who are currently members of the Gilbrea Student group. Other members might not be named, however, they will partake and assist in the events listed above. 

Timelines

Upon project approval, committee meetings will follow a monthly schedule with ongoing email communication with the lead and between committee members.

 

Proposed Project Schedule:

 

May-June Full committee meeting to: 1) establish milestones, leads and deadlines, 2) identify all known and possible community contacts and networks, 3) establish plan for engaging network contacts - how can they be involved? 4) Start planning event number one

 

July-September Finish planning event number one.  Hold event number one. Develop a collaborative meeting including older adults in the community to help 1) identify a title 2) receive feedback 3) promote our work 4) identify possible future participants 5) Start planning event number two

 

October-December:  Finish planning event number two. Hold Event number two. Develop the event including the older adults in Hamilton. Start planning event number three

 

January-March: Finish planning event number three. Hold Event number three. Develop photo exhibit 1) prepare pictures and posters 2) prepare photo books or pamphlets

 

Proposed Event Dates

Event #1 : July 25th

Event #2:  November 20th 

Event #3/Photo Exhibit: March 30th

Other considerations:

-       October 1st, National Senior’s Day

-       June 1st, Canada’s Intergenerational day