(Read Part 1: Meeting Between Children and Elders)

The workshop series À petits pas aims to break the isolation elderly people living in care home while sensitizing children to seniors’ issues and challenges. The meeting of these two realities works like communicating vessels: it stimulates the elders and quietens children.

The encounter of two very different generations, both physically and psychologically, is a real challenge. Letizia Binda-Partensky, FQD mediator, explains: “CHSLD residents are more likely to watch the dancer and children in motion than to join them. Our role is to invite them to part-take individually. The help of Recreational Activities Technicians and caregivers who support residents everyday is invaluable to us, as they have a greater understanding of individual needs and conditions. Together we succeed in accommodating each person better and adapting movement to their capacities.”

The À petit pas workshops allow children to overcome shyness when confronted with difference. Here, the mediator plays a fundamental part: “Building a trusting relationship is very important: elders will participate more when referred to by name and when direct contact is made,” points out Letizia. According to guest dancer Cara Roy, intergenerational experiences hence help promote inclusive community living.

The choice of dance to bring people closer together “allows them to connect with each other while having fun,” says Cara Roy. “For the elderly, dance creates entertainment in their day, while children develop a relationship with their body and explore their imagination.” 

After two months of weekly workshops, the last meetings between children and seniors were full of surprises. CPE Garde-Amis and prepared greetings cards to thank residents, in which they drew the elders with whom they danced. At CHSLD Bruchési, children and elders had lunch together, and children of CPE de la Dame sang a Christmas song by giving out a card to each resident. A great experience which, will hopefully bring further intergenerational initiatives.

Special thanks to Caisses Desjardins du Coeur-de-l’Île, Caisses Desjardins du Plateau-Mont-Royal and to the Sud-Ouest Borough for their support.