Conference 2024 – Building Healthy Communities: Uniting Experience, Research, and Practice for Ontario’s Age-Friendly Future

 

The Ontario Age-Friendly Communities Outreach Program’s 2024 Conference (“Building Healthy Communities: Uniting Experience, Research, and Practice for Ontario’s Age-Friendly Future.”) was held from March 20 to 22, 2024. In an era marked by an increasingly aging population, creating environments that prioritize the well-being and dignity of older adults is not just a goal but a necessity. Building on the momentum of their 2022 conference, this event aimed to integrate lived experience, research, and practice-based evidence to support age-friendly development in Ontario. Attendees had the opportunity to learn from experts in the field and be part of shaping recommendations to inform policies and practices impacting older adults.

This three-day event was organized into three themed morning sessions (8:30AM to 12:30PM EST daily):

· Day 1: Populations in Focus

· Day 2: Age-Friendly Strategies

· Day 3: Measuring Impact and Sustaining Success

The 2024 Conference was held virtually March 20 to 22, 2024.

The cost was free.

Registration has closed for this event.

 

 

 

Session 1: Keynote

Keynote

Dr. Amanda Grenier, a Professor and the Norman and Honey Schipper Chair in Gerontological Social Work at the University of Toronto and Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, opened the conference. Dr. Grenier discussed diverse experiences of aging, ageism, and inequality in the context of age-friendly communities (AFCs).


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Session 2: Rural Communities

Populations in Focus – Rural Communities

In this session, moderator Christina Early engaged panelists Dr. Elizabeth Russell, Sarah Versteeg, and Bonita Desroches in a discussion about the challenges and strengths of rural age-friendly communities. The conversation was followed by an interactive breakout session for small group discussion among conference attendees. This session ran at the same time as session 3.


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Session 3: Low Income and Housing Vulnerability

Populations in Focus: Low Income and Housing Vulnerability 

In this session, speakers Dr. Rachel Weldrick, Dr. Atiya Mahmood, and Dr. Sander Hitzig explored the intersectionality of ageism and homelessness, as well as models to support older adults living with low income and/or housing vulnerability. An interactive breakout session for small group discussion among conference attendees followed. This session ran at the same time as session 2.


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Session 4: Keynote

Keynote Speaker 

Keynote speaker, Pete Bombaci, founder of the GenWell Project, discussed issues related to social isolation, disconnection, and loneliness for older adults. Mr. Bombaci highlighted the importance of human connection.


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Session 5: Age-Friendly Strategies

Age-Friendly Strategies – Social Inclusion, Intergenerational Programming, Volunteerism 

In this session, presenters provided evidence-based examples that promote human connection.

To begin, Dr. Nicole Dalmer, Lyne Ouellet, and Kelly Dumas discussed age-friendly strategies to promote social inclusion among older adults. Dr. Raza Mirza, Courtney Lebel, Amy Brandt, and Dana Zummach then highlighted programs that bring people together across generations. Finally, Miya Narushima, Dominic Ventresca, Aleksandra Vasic, and Alexandra Puxty discussed older adult volunteerism and practical strategies to engage and retain older volunteers.


Social Inclusion 

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Intergenerational Programming 

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Volunteerism 

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Session 6: Keynote

Keynote

Dr. Patricia Oh, Senior Program Manager with the University of Maine Center on Aging, discussed age-friendly community evaluation and sustainability drawing from her experience and research at the local, state, and national levels.


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Session 7: Evaluation and Sustainability

Evaluation and Sustainability  

In this session, moderator Dr. John Puxty engaged with panelists Bill Armbruster, Lisa Maychak, and Bonnie Schroeder in a discussion about age-friendly evaluation and sustainability. The conversation was then followed by an interactive breakout session for small group discussion among conference attendees.


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Breakout Room Discussion Recording


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Speakers

 

  • Speaker – Atiya Mahmood, Ph.D. - Atiya Mahmood, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Gerontology Department at the Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada.  
  • Speaker – Aleksandra Vasic - Aleksandra is the Director of Volunteerism at Volunteer Success, a Canadian online platform that connects volunteers to meaningful opportunities
  • Speaker – Alexandra Puxty - Alexandra is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Studies in Aging and Health at Providence Care.
  • Amanda Grenier Headshot Speaker – Amanda Grenier, Ph.D. - Amanda Grenier is a Professor and the Norman and Honey Schipper Chair in Gerontological Social Work at the University of Toronto and Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.
  • Speaker – Amy Brandt - Amy Brandt is a Community Initiatives Coordinator with the City of Brantford in Ontario, Canada.
  • Speaker – Bill Armbruster - Bill Armbruster serves as Senior Advisor in the Livable   Communities Department of AARP.
  • Bonita Desroches Speaker – Bonita Desroches - Bonita Desroches is Director of Recreation for the Township of Tiny. She is also Councillor for the Town of Penetanguishene.
  • Bonnie Schroeder Speaker – Bonnie Schroeder - Bonnie is the Age-Friendly Ottawa Director with The Council on Aging of Ottawa.
  • Speaker – Christina Early - Councillor Christina Early is a dedicated advocate for the Caledon community, currently serving as the Regional Councillor for Wards 1, 2, and 3.
  • Speaker – Courtney Lebel - Courtney Lebel is a Community Initiatives Coordinator with the City of Brantford, and has been overseeing the Age-Friendly/Healthy Aging Portfolio since July 2022.
  • Dana Zummach Headshot Speaker – Dana Zummach - Dana Zummach is the manager of Dementia Programs at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and has been involved with the Supporting Inclusion through Intergenerational Partnerships (SIIP) project since 2019.
  • Dominic Ventresca Speaker – Dominic Ventresca - Dominic is the Chair for the Age-Friendly Niagara Council Board, member of the City of St. Catharines Older Adult Advisory Committee, and holds the position of Director on the Board of the Ontario Association of Councils on Aging.
  • Speaker – Elizabeth Russell, Ph.D. - Elizabeth Russell is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society at Trent University.
  • Speaker – France Connor - France Connor has been with Rural Ottawa South Support Services (ROSSS) since 2019 as the Program Manager for A Friendly Voice.
  • Dr. Puxty Headshot Speaker – John Puxty, M.D. - Dr. John Puxty is a Geriatrician and Associate Professor at Queen’s University, and Director of the Centre for Studies in Aging and Health and Southeastern Ontario Regional Geriatric Program.
  • Speaker – Kelly Dumas - Kelly Dumas is the Executive Director of Rural Ottawa South Support Services (ROSSS).
  • Speaker – Lisa Maychak - Lisa has been an employee with the City of Hamilton for 25 years. Since 2015, she has held the position of Project Manager, Age-Friendly City.
  • Lyn Ouelette Headshot Speaker – Lyne Ouellet - Lyne Ouellet is currently a research coordinator at St. Thomas University and a PhD student at the University of New Brunswick
  • Minister Raymond Cho Speaker – Minister Raymond Cho - Raymond Cho is the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility of Ontario.
  • Speaker – Miya Narushima, Ph.D. - Miya Narushima is an associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.
  • Nicole Dalmer Headshot Speaker – Nicole Dalmer, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Aging and Society and Associate Director of the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, at McMaster University
  • Speaker – Patricia Oh, Ph.D. - Patricia Oh, Ph.D., MSW is lifelong communities program manager with the University of Maine Center on Aging.
  • Pete Bombaci headshot Speaker – Pete Bombaci - Pete Bombaci is the Founder of The GenWell Project - the Human Connection Movement
  • Rachel Wendrick Headshot Speaker – Rachel Weldrick, Ph.D. - Rachel Weldrick, PhD is a gerontologist and CMHC-SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University.
  • Raza Mirza Speaker – Raza Mirza, Ph.D. - Dr. Mirza is the Director of National Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization with HelpAge Canada, and Assistant Professor (Status) at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, Institute for Life Course and Aging.
  • Dr. Hitzig Headshot Speaker – Sander L. Hitzig, P.hD. - Program Research Director and a Senior Scientist at the St. John's Rehab Research Program - Sunnybrook Research Institute and Associate Professor (status-appointment) in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
  • Sarah Versteeg headshot Speaker – Sarah Versteeg - Sarah Versteeg MSc, is Program Coordinator of Lonely No More, Co-Developer of Connectedness Coaching and Sole Proprietor of Southwest Analytics

More Information

Background: Check out the Ontario Age-Friendly Communities Outreach Program website for more background on AFCIs in Ontario.

Hosted by: This conference was hosted by the Age-Friendly Communities Outreach Program, with funding from the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility (MSAA).