CultureLink, through its Newcomer Seniors Centre (NSC), has created and maintained a space where seniors of the Spanish speaking community of Toronto have found a home away from home. Every Wednesday, rain, shine or snow, an average of 40 seniors from different nationalities meet to spend the afternoon together and to participate in a number of activities designed to promote their physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual wellness.
Most of these seniors live alone and face language barriers. This translates into loneliness, lack of confidence and opportunities to participate in social activities and become engaged in their communities. Thus, at CultureLink we are working hard to help these individuals overcome isolation and to provide an inclusive space where they can develop friendships, share their stories and life experiences, and explore their talents and interests (e.g. theatre, poetry, singing, dancing, storytelling etc.)
Our team and organization is committed to address their needs, interests, and concerns. Every week, our staff prepares and delivers interactive workshops in which seniors gain practical knowledge on a wide variety of topics that they identify as important. For instance, they have learnt how to access community resources and services, tips to maintain their body and spirit healthy, as well as strategies to prevent accidents and abuse. In addition, they have gained an understanding of Canada’s political and electoral system, which has empowered them to exercise their democratic right to vote and to be heard.
Today, we can proudly say that our organization has played a key role in changing an improving the lives of a large number of seniors who were previously forgotten, marginalized, and isolated. It has been truly phenomenal and rewarding to see the transformation of some of these individuals and how they have overcome their barriers and fears to become confident and enthusiastic leaders within their communities. Their gratitude, courage, and achievements, in turn, have inspired us to continue working in favour of this and other disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
by Dora Leon