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Making intergenerational connections during COVID-19

 April 6, 2020
Posted by NWT Recreation and Parks Association

Generations on the Move is a three-year project dedicated to promoting active, healthy, aging in NWT communities. A collaboration with the NWT Seniors’ Society and with support from the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), the project aims to decrease the social isolation of older adults by encouraging intergenerational connections and increasing active living opportunities for older adults.

The central message of Generations on the Move is to increase connection between older adults and community members of all generations. The original aim of the project was to support community leaders to create activities and programs that bring together people of all ages—from infant to Elder—while also promoting physical activity.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NWTRPA recognizes that priorities must shift in order to keep the health of our Elders and older adults as a central focus to the GOTM program. People over the age of 65 who contract the virus are at increased risk, especially those with longstanding health conditions. In order to keep our Elders and older adults safe and healthy, connecting in-person is not possible right now.

The Government of Canada is advising all Canadians to:

  • limit contact with people at higher risk, such as older adults and those with compromised immune systems;
  • stay at home unless you must absolutely to go to work;
  • avoid all non-essential trips in your community;
  • not gather in groups of more than 15 people; and
  • always keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres/6 feet) from others.

The GNWT has cancelled visitation to long-term care facilities to keep residents safe, and all Elder day programs delivered by Health and Social Services Authorities are cancelled. Likewise, the NWTRPA has postponed all in-person programming until it is safe for us to gather again. The five communities participating in project—Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Hay River, Ulukhaktok, and Whati—have done the same for their respective Generations on the Move programs.

The Generations on the Move logo features two hands representing different generations coming together. While the message that inspired the logo is still valuable—the importance of connecting across generations—we are aware that it is a strange image at a time when public health officials in the NWT, Canada, and beyond are advising us to practice social distancing, which includes avoiding handshakes and hugs.

It’s tough to stay so far apart from our loved ones for such a long time.

While we can’t connect with Elders and older adults in-person, we can be with them online, over the phone, and in spirit. We can also connect with them by helping them to stay safe and avoid places that pose a risk of coming into contact with COVID-19.  

There are still so many ways we can keep connected across generations while remaining physically distant. We at the NWTRPA have compiled a resources page for all ages to support and connect with seniors and Elders.

Please follow us on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram, and keep an eye on our Intergenerational Connections Resource Page for the latest resources to keep connected with older adults and Elders during the COVID-19 pandemic.