14 Centre Street is one of the many units owned by Niagara Regional Housing and was the site of the first-ever Through Their Eyes project in Niagara. This building has 133 one-bedroom units for seniors aged 55 and older and provides a supportive and inclusive environment for people of similar ages to live at a reduced cost.
Students in the Building Healthy Communities course at Brock University, taught by Associate Professor Pauli Gardner, returned to 14 Centre Street in 2021 for the 8th consecutive Through Their Eyes project during the Fall term.
2014 Project Overview
45 undergraduate students partnered with 20 seniors during the first run of the Through Their Eyes project.
Residents who were interested in learning about the project were invited to attend information sessions in the apartments. Eligible participants were over the age of 55, living in the apartments at 14 Centre Street, able to go outside, and capable of understanding and answering questions from the students. After determining the residents’ eligibility, their contact information was matched with students from the class.
Despite obstacles (winter weather and hesitancy to volunteer), many seniors were receptive to the idea of being interviewed and inviting students into their homes, and their involvement with the project was critical to the study’s preliminary findings.
2021 Project Overview
13 undergraduate students partnered with 6 seniors during the 8th consecutive run of the Through Their Eyes project.
The project faced various obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted senior recruitment and student participation. Class sizes were reduced in accordance with public health guidelines and both seniors and students were hesitant to interact with strangers. Despite the challenges however the project moved ahead and the intergenerational teams gathered important insights into the age friendliness of the surrounding community at 14 Centre Street.
Everyone Benefits and Learns from the Project
At the end of each term, the teams of students and seniors, along with project coordinators, partners, and public officials, gather for a community forum event to preview the preliminary findings of their research.
Since the project’s inception in 2014, there have been many age-friendly improvements implemented including a site box, murals, maintained sidewalks, new communication strategies, social activities, and a community garden (just to name a few).
Opportunities for Change
While progress has been made in many areas, other not-so-age-friendly indicators have yet to be addressed including a shortage of seating and proper shelters at bus stops, speeding and traffic concerns, and a lack of healthy grocery store options in the area. Improved communication with residents was also highlighted as something that could be improved.
The following videos highlight the preliminary findings gleaned from each student groups’ qualitative research gathered throughout the intergenerational project.