University Gates’ Don Nightingale says he’s sharing the bragging rights his Village earned at the Schlegel Olympics in February as he sits beside the booth he helped create for the recent Curiosity Fair, hosted at the RIA’s Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Aging next door. University Gates did take home the most medals of any western team, after all, and he smiles recalling how much fun the team had that day.
The Olympics are one arm of the Schlegel Villages Wisdom of the Elder signature program, which creates avenues for village residents to showcase their passions, their experience and their desire to remain vibrant, active members of their community.
This Curiosity Fair has attracted pupils from nearby Northlake Woods Public School along with RIA Research Chairs, their teams and University Gates residents to showcase different projects. It feels like an old-fashioned science fair with added arts booths to round things out, and both the RIA and the University Gates Innovation Team organized the event as an opportunity for people of all ages to connect.
Don says he’s happy to share his experience with the young people who wander through the many exhibits, for they get to see a different side of what they might think life is like in a long-term care home.
“It’s a great feeling to go and compete,” Don says, showing off pictures from two different Olympics he attended. He travelled by bus to meet many other residents from different villages in the region, he says, and he found great meaning in the entire experience. The young people seem fascinated by the idea, and Don says it’s important they speak with him and the other residents, “because some of them may not have grandparents – they may have passed away or they live in other countries – so it’s good to talk with them.”
Don’s fellow resident Elaine Barnes created a booth highlighting some of the myths and facts that accompany Parkinson’s Disease, which has affected her life in many ways.
“It’s important to learn,” she says, noting that she spent a career as a teacher and principal, so the young people wandering through the aisles and booths are quite familiar. “It’s very nice to see.”
Elaine also says working alongside team member Ally Serota was very fulfilling; they met every Wednesday, with Ally acting as scribe, and together they researched the topic.
“I enjoyed it very much,” she says. “It made me have a purpose.”