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Truth About Youth  initiative brings leaf raking effort  to Minto seniors

Helping out - In a project initiated by the Seniors’ Centre for Excellence, with help from high school staff and retired teacher Ian Turner, Wellington Heights Secondary School students volunteered to rake leaves for seniors in Mount Forest last fall. This year, organizers are planning to make the program available to Minto residents with the involvement of Norwell District Secondary School students.      Submitted photo

Truth About Youth initiative brings leaf raking effort to Minto seniors

MINTO - The local Seniors Centre for Excellence and area youth groups are expanding a popular leaf raking program to Minto.

Seniors centre coordinator Helen Edwards and Gabriella Ieropoli,  Community Youth Resiliency Worker with the North for Youth program, advised Minto council of the plan on Aug. 1 in a report on the agencies’ joint The Truth About Youth initiative.

In their report, Ieropoli and Edwards explained the initiative aims to demonstrate the positive impact that intergenerational programs have on building strong communities.

The initiative, targeting “at risk youth” and seniors, aims to connect youth with their local community through projects that respond to community-identified needs.

One of the goals is to help participants look past common “ageist stereotypes” about youth and seniors, the report explains. 

“Helen and I were thinking, I work with the youth, she works with seniors - how do we kind of connect these two different populations together?” Ieropoli said.

“We really wanted to find ways that they could be more involved in their community-developing skills that they may not have.”

“Seniors have their own stereotypes,” noted Edwards. 

“We undervalue our seniors and when we look at any of the volunteer organizations that we have in our small communities, it is the seniors that keep that going to a great extent and we need to support seniors in the community as a thank you for all the work that they’ve done.” 

The group’s first project was conducted last fall, as young people from North for Youth worked with alternative education students and others from Wellington Heights Secondary School to rake leaves on Oct. 18 at the homes of 21 seniors who signed up for the program.

Ieropoli said it was amazing to see the impact the youth were able to make in just a couple of hours, and they all responded positively to the experience.

“One hundred per cent of the youth were like, ‘Yes, I’ll definitely do this again,’” she said, noting the reaction from seniors was along the lines of “this is great.”

Ieropoli and Edwards explained the group would like to offer the same type of support to Minto residents this fall. 

A number of seniors have expressed interest, they note, and Minto Youth Action Council members have agreed to help rake leaves. The alternative education class at Norwell District Secondary School is also interested in participating.

Promotional help sought

The organizers asked council for help promoting the leaf cleanup through local seniors’ networks.

The group has already taken on several other projects in Minto, including helping to build planter boxes for the community garden in Palmerston and an accessibly ramp at the home of a local woman.

Ieropoli thanked town officials for their assistance  in securing permits and helping to facilitate the ramp project. 

“Without your support that ramp would not have happened and that woman would still be stuck inside not able to get out,” she stated.

“Hats off to both of you,” said deputy mayor Ron Faulkner, noting the initiative  supports “two groups that it couldn’t be more rewarding when something good happens to either one.”

Mayor George Bridge said, “I feel comfortable saying from a council standpoint that we’ll give you whatever help we possibly can, because we believe in our youth and we have some great youth out there.

“And I’m really excited, Helen, about the fact that you matched up with our seniors, because we have some great seniors.”

August 11, 2017


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