Celebrating a Year of Positive Transformation

David Kent’s new passion for Changing the Culture of Aging

By Kristian Partington

Sept. 21, 2015 marks the first anniversary of the day David Kent rediscovered his place in the world, setting the stage for a year-long transformation he never could have imagined while embedding in his heart, mind and spirit a new sense of purpose and drive.   

Marlene, David, and Larysa posing for a photo
Marlene, David and Larysa at the Village of Erin Meadows work together
to present historical seminars, reigniting David's love of education.

At first consideration for some, the event that occurred that day a year ago may seem rather ordinary. With the help of recreation team member Larysa Mikhnevych and long-time volunteer Marlene, David presented the first of a series of educational seminars based on his passion for history to a group of fellow residents at his new home in the Village of Erin Meadows. The topic was Canada’s famous Group of Seven artists and the legacy they left in the world; it was well received by a group of about 15 people who attended that evening and it preempted a visit to the McMichael Canadian Art Exhibition in Kleinburg, the museum that houses many of the famous artists’ work.

But to hear David speak of that day now, it was anything but a simple presentation; this was the moment he realized the people who support him are not simply caregivers, they are facilitators that can help possibilities become realities. When David first moved into Erin Meadows in late summer, 2014, he barely left his room. The slowly compounding effects of a degenerative muscle wasting disease had robbed him of certain aspects of his physical independence and didn’t adjust well to his new surroundings.  

Then he finally came out of his room, a rarity beyond mealtimes, and he attended one of Larysa’s presentations about travel in the United States. The idea struck him that he could draw upon his background as an educator to focus on Canadian topics in a similar seminar series, and the team offered their full support.  One year later, about 45 people jammed into the community centre for his discussion on the Great Depression and the lessons that can be learned from those darks days in the present. It was also the first day of a week-long Culture Change celebration in the village where team members, families, residents and volunteers can learn more about the conscious shift underway within Schlegel Villages to create a care model that allows all residents to achieve their ambitions and get the most out of every day.

David is among the most ardent of culture change supporters today and he nearly comes to tears as he explains that the team members in the room are the reason he’s been able to transform his life.

“Thanks to you people, my life has been enriched,” he tells them. “Now I’m back doing what I love to do.”

Beyond the 28 Canada Pride seminars he’s hosted in the past year, David is part of the Village Advisory Team that helps to steer the village’s culture change direction, he’s president of Residents’ Council, he presented on his life’s transformation at the Pioneer Network Conference in Chicago and will do so again at the Schlegel Villages Operational Planning retreat at the end of September, and he’s a proud champion of the research practices supported through the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging.

This is his passion now: promoting the type of change that will allow others to unlock their potential. This type of passion is contagious, David knows, and he can’t wait to see what the future holds.