Pilot project pairs students and seniors in an intergenerational living environment

22 May 2024

Two of Silvera’s newest residents aren’t just young at heart – they are young!

At a special event at Westview Town Suites yesterday, Silvera and the Canadian Alliance for Intergenerational Living (CAIL) introduced two post-secondary students who are moving into Westview Town Suites this fall as part of an exciting new pilot project.

The pilot program creates affordable housing for students and fills    a few vacancies at Westview while providing new energy, enthusiasm and ideas during resident programming.

The two students, Mary Shakir and Shannon Penner, will be fully immersed in community life for the September 2024 to April 2025 academic year. Each student will contribute 30 volunteering hours per month for residents in exchange for reduced rent and meals.

They were selected from 50 applicants for the pilot.

“This idea stretches back to the beginning of the pandemic, when seniors were socially isolated and students were struggling to find housing,” says Bonita Paquette, who decided to address both issues by founding CAIL and applying for $25,000 in federal funding to get the pilot off the ground.

“Mary and Shannon will be fully immersed in community life at Westview,” says Olivia Chubey, Chief Service and Operations Officer. “Along with their senior neighbours, they will take part in a variety of activities, games and events. Their presence and energy will really enhance the vibrancy of Westview.”

The students will join residents in Virtual Reality gaming, armchair travel, cooking, and baking. They can ride adaptive bicycles together and enjoy Bollywood and Latin Dance fitness classes.

“The possibilities are endless,” says Olivia.

Coincidentally, Mary used to work at Westview as a Dining Services attendant. She is now registered in the pharmacy tech program at Bow Valley College. She has a passion for working with seniors, loves baking and is excited to once again be part of the programs at Westview.

Shannon has worked with seniors for 12 years, is a certified personal trainer and a movie buff too. She’s currently taking a class on film study as part of her psychology degree program at Mount Royal University. She is looking forward to all the fun the students and residents will have together.

Both students will continue attending classes full time during their tenure at Westview.

“We owe a huge thanks to Westview residents,” said Olivia. “We can’t do this without their input and involvement – they will certainly be showing Mary and Shannon what adult living is all about!”

Resident Phyllis Massier, 95, who has lived at Westview for almost two years, told Global Television she loves the idea of having new neighbours.

“The people are all very friendly and, I don’t know, we are just like a big family, really.”