Project aims to build trust between teens, seniors

If you’re a senior in the Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood who feels anxious near groups of teens, “Trust Me!” want to hear from you.

If you’re a senior in the Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood who feels anxious near groups of teens or would like to feel more connected to the younger generation, the organizers of “Trust Me!” want to hear from you.

And teens feeling judged by seniors – you’re invited into the conversation, too.

Trust Me! is a project aimed at building relationships between teens and seniors of Gorge-Tillicum by making safer shared community spaces that most teens and seniors use – areas such as sidewalks, malls, recreation centres and bus stops.

“We called it ‘Trust Me!’ because between … teens and the seniors, we feel that there’s a lack of trust,” said Liz McCarter, wellness centre co-ordinator for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

“I’ve often heard seniors say, especially when they live near a high school, that they don’t go out at noon and they don’t go out after three, when all the kids get out,” McCarter said.

“Then you’ll often hear kids say ‘Well I was trying to be nice to a senior, but they didn’t do anything’ – they just don’t understand each other.”

“There’s a lack of trust on both sides,” said Julie Wallace, recreation programmer. “This is a way for teens to see how community development works and how you build a relationship with community groups.”

A team of 10 teens and 10 seniors will participate in four brainstorming sessions to develop projects aimed at joining the two segments of the population in Gorge-Tillicum. McCarter sees the project as the first of its kind across the region.

Trust Me! is sponsored by the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, B.C. Healthy communities and the District of Saanich.

The final project will be revealed to the community in March, through Wallace has no idea what form it will take at this point.

“That’s the exciting part,” she said. “It’s not driven by anyone organizing the project. It’s organized by the teens and the seniors.”

Trust Me! is made possible through a $20,000 federal grant under The New Horizons for Seniors Program, which supports projects led or inspired by seniors who want to make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities.

Any seniors interested in contributing to the project should contact McCarter by Oct. 12 at 250-370-5688 ext: 34682 or elizabeth.mccarter@viha.ca. Interested teens can contact Wallace at julie.wallace@saanich.ca.

nnorth@saanichnews.com