Cannan: Local support makes Kelowna a mecca for retirees

The quality of volunteers and the excellent leadership within our organizations is impressive.

No matter your age, but especially as one gets older, staying informed, being engaged and keeping active in your community is vital for one’s general well-being.

It also keeps our communities healthy and vibrant.

It was an honour to host Alice Wong, the  minister of state for seniors, earlier this month and take her on a tour of some of our local seniors’ centres, introduce her to the folks in our community who are dedicated to working daily with our seniors, many on a volunteer basis.

The quality of volunteers and the excellent leadership within our organizations is impressive and it reinforces why the Okanagan is such a wonderful place for seniors to live.

Thanks to the hospitality and great work of Kelowna Community Resources, Wong and I had a chance to sit down at a roundtable and chat with representatives of various local organizations who work hard every day to make our community safe, fun and livable.

The discussion focused on a number of topics including seniors in isolation, helping groups work with local and provincial governments to provide better transportation systems, and the challenges/best practices for keeping seniors, active, engaged and informed.

The minister and I were able to draw attention to the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which has always been well received in the Okanagan.

All communities are different and have different needs and the NHSP program lets communities design programs and projects that are tailor made to fit their unique needs.

Projects are led or inspired by seniors and address issues including promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations; engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others; expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse; supporting the social participation and inclusion of seniors; and providing capital assistance for new and existing community projects and/or programs for seniors.

Wong also drew attention to the National Seniors Council, which has been assessing how social isolation affects seniors and exploring ways to prevent and reduce the social isolation of seniors in Canada.

Information on the council’s activities can be found at seniorscouncil.gc.ca.

The value of roundtables like the one held in Kelowna can’t be underestimated.

Such gatherings provide the opportunity to build relationships between different organizations enabling them to find ways they can work together and share best practices.

Wong has visited more than 150 ridings and has been listening to folks from all over the country.

She consistently hears the message that there is a strong correlation between health and getting out into your community and keeping active.

I encourage anyone with an interest in issues related to seniors to access the extensive information available at seniors.gc.ca.

If you need to access resources from any level of government, want to know what benefits you are entitled to, or need more information on issues which affect the wellbeing of seniors, this is a great resource.

For those who do not have an Internet connection available to them, information is available from Service Canada by calling 1-800-O-CANADA.

Or you can always contact my Capri Mall constituency office, call 250-470-5075, and my staff or I will do our best to help you find what you might need.

As Ernest Myers the poet and author stated: “Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” I think that is sage advice to everyone, no matter your age.

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