A project that had its conception and development in Vernon has been selected as one of five in an international competition for the most Innovative Intergenerational Solidarity initiative.
The Meadows School Project (www.intergenerational.ca) was judged in June, along with projects from around the world, by world health care researchers and international seniors’ advocates. This week, project founder Sharon MacKenzie, a former Vernon teacher and now executive director of the i2i Intergenerational Society of Canada, is in Istanbul, Turkey to do the final presentation and learn the results of the competition.
The Meadows School Project ran for eight years in Vernon with students from Kidston elementary school and residents and staff at Coldstream Meadows Retirement Community before rolling into a second phase in Williams Lake, now in its third year. Two other projects are slated to begin in Kamloops and Summerland School Districts this year in cooperation with Retirement Concepts facilities.
The Meadows School Project model sees a class of intermediate students move into a makeshift classroom at a seniors’ residence for two full months of the school year.
“Based on the successful concept of immersion used for the understanding of French, Meadows School Project allows students and older adults to share curriculum studies, community service and building one-on-one relationships,” said MacKenzie. “They immerse in the lives of each other to build empathy and intellectual connections.”
Meadows School Project is the banner initiative of the i2i Intergenerational Society, founded in Vernon, led by former student participant, president Sam Nolan. Five of the 10-member board are from Vernon. The society provides free resources and assistance to those wanting to start or share Intergenerational projects. Four years ago it launched June 1 as Intergenerational Day Canada and in 2013, more than 100 cities representing every province and territory proclaimed the day.
The results of the world competition for Vernon’s Meadows School Project, which includes the UN World Health Organization representatives, will be announced this week.
“The results, however, are already in for those who have participated over the years,” said MacKenzie. “Respectful intergenerational relations always puts you in the winner’s circle.”