During the Fall 2017 term, students in the Building Healthy Communities course at Brock University worked with residents at 45 Ormond Street South to collect research for the 5th edition of the Through Their Eyes project in Niagara. Each team of students partnered with seniors from the Niagara Regional Housing residence to gain a better understanding of what makes an age-friendly community through the eyes of the city’s experts–local senior residents.
You can view the photos from our most recent aging simulation here.
This year’s Through Their Eyes project included GIS mapping of the frequented areas surrounding 45 Ormond Street. This element of the project’s research enhanced our ability to assess the age-friendliness of the neighbourhood. With the help of staff from the Map Library at Brock University, students gained new skills in ARC – a Geographical Information System (GIS) software program.
GIS is a computer system that allows you to view information about a geographical area (in this case, the Gale Crescent community) in the form of a map. The students used these maps to pinpoint the domains of an age-friendly community such as the community’s parks and green spaces, transportation routes, and locations of nearby supermarkets, churches, and health services.
“I personally feel like ARC maps helped me grow academically. At the beginning of the course I did not understand why we were learning how to map (truthfully I was confused). However, by completing the assignment and writing two paragraphs about why I thought this knowledge is useful to others and me in public health really made me realize how important it actually is. GIS can relate in a future career for me when I am researching which area needs the most help. I hope to go into Epidemiology so mapping can specifically help me with incidence, spread, and control of disease. This will allow me to see particular patterns and trends in the distribution of illness with specific demographics.” – Student
These maps were also used to plot the routes that the residents mentioned they typically used in order to better understand their community experience from a bird’s eye view.
Overall, the maps and mapping skills were found to be a useful tool adding another layer to our understanding of a community and its age-friendliness.
Have a look at some of the maps from this year’s project.
Video Presentation Summarizing Through Their Eyes Project Findings
Keeping up with the project tradition, on December 5th, 2017, Pauli Gardner’s students, community partners and seniors from 45 Ormond Street gathered to share and learn about the project findings. Memories and kind words were shared as everyone enjoyed food and beverages. The reflections of understanding and gratitude were accompanied by the sounds of laughter and enjoyment as, once again, the Through Their Eyes project opened hearts and minds.
Pauli presented back to the residents what had been learned from them about the positives, negatives and opportunities for change in their community based on the domains of age-friendliness. A few of the students had prepared some words to share about their experience with the project as well. The presentation was well received, with a few residents adding comments and kind words about their own experience with the project.
Overall, the community forum was a great event that brought students, seniors, and community partners together that resulted in a shared feeling of community. What a great way to bring this year’s project to a close!
Take a moment to look through some of the photos from the event!