Schlegel’s #ElderWisdom Green Bench campaign aiming to quash ageism

Schlegel Villages has created an innovative way to engage seniors with their local communities and provide them with opportunities to share their wisdom with others.

In recognition of June being Seniors’ Month, Schlegel’s #ElderWisdom Green Bench campaign is inviting seniors from its long-term care and retirement communities – called “villages” – to share their insights on life with others. Topics will be specific to residents’ experience or interest and may include subjects such as art, music, poetry, photography and sports.

The campaign kicked off June 8. Each Schlegel long-term care and retirement home is selecting one resident to represent their village during the community conversations. Among the chosen residents are a past mayor and a retired RCMP officer.

At the venues in each of the 13 communities where these conversations will take place will be a green bench embossed with the social-media hashtag #ElderWisdom. The residents will sit on the bench and discuss their topic, and community members will be invited to come up to the bench to speak with them. Politicians, students and local media are invited to join the discussions.

The goal of the campaign, which is part of Schlegel’s Wisdom of the Elder signature program, is to quash negative stereotypes about seniors and help stem ageism, says Ted Mahy, Schlegel Villages’ online engagement manager.

“Ageism is an issue everywhere,” he says. “Our goal is to decrease that ageism and get people talking about seniors in a positive way and about how much wisdom they have to offer. … I am positive that the stories we hear and engagement is going to be different from every resident that’s participating.”

After the events, community members are invited to share their experiences at the dialogue on social media using the #ElderWisdom hashtag.

“We want to get the community members talking about the elders and how much wisdom they have to offer, and (also to) have our seniors from our villages engaged in their communities and engaged on social media,” Mahy says. “Residents can then bring their stories back to the villages to share with other residents and continue that conversation.”

These conversations will also be enriching to participating residents, Mahy adds, noting many have interesting stories to tell and are eager to share their experiences.

Tour dates are listed below:
- June 8th - Kitchener, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Outside Kitchener City Hall
- June 9: Windsor, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Riverfront Trail at Ouellette Ave.
- June 10: London, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Outside City Hall
- June 13: Waterloo, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Uptown Waterloo Public Square
- June 14: Guelph, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., St. Georges Square at the fountain
- June 17: Brampton, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Garden Square
- June 20: Burlington, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Outside City Hall
- June 21: Hamilton, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Gore Park Promenade
- June 23: Mississauga, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mississauga Celebration Square
- June 24: Etobicoke, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Humber Bay Park West
- June 27: Barrie, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Heritage Park
- June 28: Whitby, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Celebration Square at Whitby Library
- June 29: Toronto, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Roundhouse Park

For more information, click here.

Update: The Green Bench campaign has also been generating lots of media coverage! Click below to read some of the stories.
- City allows elder wisdom in the Gore (Hamilton Spectator)
Spreading the wisdom in St. George's Square (Guelph Today)
- #ElderWisdom campaign working to end ageism comes to Mississauga’s Celebration Square (The Mississauga News)