Engaging Francophone Community Leaders for Strong, Resilient and Healthy Communities: West Nipissing & Sudbury East
By Estelle Duchon, HC Link Consultant
During 2009 and 2010, members of the Verner and Noëlville Villages-amis des aînés committee held many consultations to develop an action plan to support their Village-amis des aînés initiatives in both Noëlville and Verner. Once the action plan was created, they found themselves stuck on how to implement the plan. While it contained many great ideas, there were few people to help implement the plan. The challenge was daunting. It was at this point between December 2011 and February 2012 that I began to meet regularly with the committee to discuss the needs of Francophone leaders in the communities of West Nipissing and Sudbury East and to set up two days of training that would meet those needs.
The training sessions addressed issues such as: how to motivate volunteers in the development of community projects; how to recruit new volunteers, including recent retirees; where and how to seek financial resources for community projects; and how to influence policies that promote health. All of these issues were of high importance to the newly created Villages-amis des aînés in Noëlville and Verner, an initiative organized by FAFO (Fédération des aînés et retraités francophones de l’Ontario).
What is a village-ami des aînés? It is an elderly-friendly village that encourages active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security of older citizens, to improve their quality of life.
This “village-ami” concept is inclusive, which means that an elderly-friendly village is a village that is friendly to all. Meeting the needs of seniors involves addressing the needs of the most vulnerable, including children and people with disabilities. It also means encouraging the development of the economy and making life healthier, more vibrant and enriching for the entire community.
"Crazy ideas are ideas that are destabilizing at first, but end up making a difference. They serve as a trigger in the community."
- Jean Sirois, FAFO coordinator
Following the two training sessions and with new knowledge and tools in hand, these two communities have started to implement the action plan. We look forward to checking in with them down the road to see how their initiative has grown and prospered.