Martin C. Barry
With an announcement last week that they have initiated the first steps towards opening a “Wellness Centre,” Chomedey-based Agape Youth and Parents Association has decided the time has come to take a big leap forward to serve some of the forgotten needs of English-speaking senior citizens in Laval.
The news was formally announced during a meeting of the Laval/Agape NPI Partners Committee at the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital on Feb. 16. NPI Partners, which was founded by Agape more than five years ago, gathers together organizations in Laval active in the health and social services sector for meetings during which they share strategies and trade information with an eye to serving a common cause.
A growing Anglo population
According to Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod who presented an outline for the project, 15,995 English-speaking people aged 55 years and older presently live in Laval and the number is growing. As bilingualism is more of a challenge to senior citizens the older they are, and this presents a barrier to their being able to access information from public health and social service institutions, Agape sees itself being able to provide a new service through its proposed centre.
“Agape right now is seeking to create a Wellness Centre for Laval’s English-speaking seniors that would offer health promotion and fitness,” McLeod said, while adding that future activities at the centre would be planned so as not to compete with already-existing services at other centres in Laval offering programs of activity to seniors.
Wellness and well-being
“This is really a place that would be centered on wellness and well-being and so really wouldn’t focus on leisure like many of the other groups that are represented here do,” said Agape social worker Ian Williams. All the same, added McLeod, it could offer a few social activities such as a bridge or knitting club.
“The Wellness Centre would encourage access to services in English,” said McLeod. “It would be the ideal place to create social initiatives for vulnerable seniors and caregivers. Through partnerships with public and private organizations the centre would be providing seniors with the necessary tools to promote mental, emotional and physical well-being.”
Elaborating on the sort of services that might be provided, McLeod stressed that “these would be always free activities,” including informational health and well-being sessions, as well as subjects pertinent to seniors such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, fall prevention and memory loss. The centre could also be offering legal information through expert speakers on issues such as the making of wills and mandates.
Grant applications made
McLeod read from a long list of “possible partners” who might be interested in joining the project, including the City of Laval, local MNAs and MPs, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, CISSS Laval, the Cummings Centre, the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, the Golda Meir Chapter Hadassah Laval, the Alzheimer Society of Laval, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 251, Northlea United Church and the Laval News.
McLeod said Agape has so far submitted one grant application which would support the Wellness Centre for two years if accepted. He said the organization wants to rent space that would be especially adapted to accommodate seniors.
“I’m assuming it would most likely 95 per cent sure be in Chomedey in the region because the most amount of seniors are in Chomedey,” he said. He said Agape is waiting to receive a reply regarding the grant by Feb. 28. If it were to be approved, the project would begin on April 1 and would continue until March 31 2019. According to McLeod, the budget for two years would be $100,000.
No English at Place des Aînés
Laval city councillor Raynald Adams, who sits on the executive-committee representing senior citizens’ issues, attended the meeting along with Councillor Aline Dib who is responsible for family issues. Adams asked McLeod whether the Wellness Centre “would be comparable to what already exists, say, at Place des Aînés.”
After replying that Place des Aînés focuses more on leisure, McLeod recounted how he had difficulty getting service in English for his retired father at Place des Aînés. “He’s going to learn French pretty fast,” he recalled being told by a Place des Aînés official after asking whether his father could speak English there.