The New Generation of Care Partner

Three Rec. and Leisure Studies students discuss their time at Winston Park

By Kristian Partington

On an early-April afternoon around the large table in the community centre at The Village of Winston Park, 10 Conestoga College students are celebrating the end of their placement. They’re the largest group out of their Recreation and Leisure Studies program to be placed in one location and, judging by the laughter and excitement in their voices, it seems they’ve had a fulfilling experience.  

Table set for a meal with recreation team members and Conestoga students sitting around it
Conestoga College students on the final day of placement at Winston Park.

It’s a diverse group of women with varied accents and different stories to explain how each of them found their way to Conestoga College and eventually Winston Park this day.

Erin Quin spent four years working in pharmacy retail, for example. In that position she found she was able to quickly connect with the many seniors she served in the community, so she chose to switch career paths to focus more on seniors. “I absolutely loved it,” she says of her time in the village. “I love working with seniors and I have quite an interest in the whole aspect of gerontology. This is the kind of field that can yield a whole bunch of different avenues; there are many specializations you can get into and still have fun and not be sitting behind a desk.”

Ming Xu is sitting beside Erin. She moved to Canada eight years ago as a specialist in landscape design and botanical gardens. The lovely flower arrangements on the community centre table are examples of her skill, and over the years, she's spent time volunteering with seniors and found contentment and satisfaction in doing so.

“I really liked the experience here,” Ming says. “It gave me the practical field experience.” She says despite the age of the residents, there is still a lot of “spark” and they all still like to have a lot of fun. She managed to make some strong connections with a few of the residents and says she intends to find a job in the field upon graduation from Conestoga.

Daniela Rosin says she got into the recreation and leisure studies specifically to work with seniors, though there are many other directions a graduate might choose. Growing up in Romania, she says she was heavily influenced by older generations.

“My Grandparents had a big impact on my life,” Daniela says, “and I had a neighbour, she was a retired biology teacher, and all the time when my parents were at work I would spend time with her.” They’d play cards together and this neighbour taught Daniela about the world around her.

“I feel that I communicate better with seniors,” she says, and working with older adults who need support, whether in a community setting or in long-term care, would be a way that she could honour her childhood experiences and those who taught her.  

This is a passion for Daniela, as it is for Ming, Erin and so many other people entering the field of elder care. All three speak of strong relationships and connectivity as central to the future they envision, and in a support sector that is continually evolving, that attitude will go a long way.