#ElderWisdom across Ontario

“I love meeting people and hearing their stories,” says Manuela Denes, Manager of Community Relations with Essex County Library, so when the idea of hosting two #ElderWisdom events in partnership with the Village at St. Clair and the Village of Aspen Lake in Windsor arose, she leapt at the chance.

A young person embraces an older person while sitting upon the Green Bench at the Essex County Library.“Libraries are filled with stories and information, either on the printed or digital page,” she says. “How wonderful that they can also be a safe space for people of all ages and backgrounds to come and sit for a while to listen to someone share their stories in person.”

Across Ontario during senior’s Month, Schlegel Villages once again brought its Green Benches into the community, inviting people to sit alongside older adults to listen to life stories and be reminded of the great wealth of wisdom that resides in the experience of our oldest generations.

This year, most Green Bench events were held in local libraries, where people of all ages came together, joined by the connections people have across generations and backgrounds.

Those that were not able to facilitate an event either invited the community into the Village, as was the case at Sandalwood Park, or they ventured elsewhere in the community.

The Village of Wentworth Heights, for example, brought the bench to students at St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School, building on a strong relationship the residents already have with students there who have visited on several occasions.

At its root, the #ElderWisdom campaign is about recognizing that the older generations still have much to offer society, if people only took the time to listen. Unfortunately, agist stereotypes are still prevalent in our society and all too often the views of older adults aren’t sought or listened to.

Donna sits with a police officer and politician sharing wisdom upon the Green Bench.At Sandalwood Park in Brampton, MPP Graham McGregor joined constables from the Peel Regional Police Service and a member of Brampton Fire and Emergency Services to sit upon the green bench. They were joined by residents Doug, Donna and Richard, among many others who joined the activities along Main Street.

MPP McGregor had an opportunity to reflect on some wisdom he has always carried, passed down from his mother.

“Life is complicated,” he said, “but there are two rules that I try to follow with decisions that I make. One is to treat people the way I want to be treated and two is to leave things better than I found them . . . and I try to follow those two rules every day.”

It’s a simple bit of wisdom that resonated with the people gathered in the Village and should echo throughout all communities.

As Manuela reflects on what she learned during the events in Windsor she says: “the quote on the bench is such a powerful one that needs to be shared with everyone.”

The quote is from Ron Schlegel, who once said: “The greatest untapped resource in Canada, if not the world, is the collective wisdom of our elders.”

This month and always, we should remember this.