Council on aging marks 50 years of action

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An Edmonton-based group is this year celebrating more than Canada’s 150th birthday.

The Alberta Council on Aging turned 50 this year, an achievement executive director Donna Durand says is a testament to the fact the non-profit charitable group has been able to keep abreast of changing times throughout the decades.

“It’s really exciting,” she says. “We’ve furthered our objectives with creativity and innovation and we’re busting myths all over the place. We’ve definitely shown that it’s just not true that seniors don’t like technology.”

The group – formed in 1967 to advise all levels of government about matters relating to the participation of seniors in Alberta and Canada – has embarked on a project that this fall will see the creation of a virtual office.

“We will continue to provide our educational programs face to face,” explains Durand, adding online toolkits will now be made available for the public to access. “Having a virtual office will extend our reach, save money and empower volunteers.”

Savings in rent, mail-outs and other office expenses will allow the organization to expand its services, which include developing programs and publications designed to eliminate ageism and promote inclusiveness of older persons in all Albertan communities.

But the council has yet another reason to celebrate this year; it’s been nominated for a Laurel Award in the innovation category. The law firm of Duncan Craig LLP created the Laurel Awards in Edmonton in 1994 to celebrate the work of non-profit organizations in the city and the surrounding areas. The awards will be presented this September.

Durand believes its important people realize seniors are just as capable of using modern technology as everyone else.

Bill Gilchrist, 87, says he recently learned how to text message. With poor hearing it was becoming increasingly difficult to use the telephone.

“It wasn’t easy for me to learn (to text),” he admits. “But now I can check in with my grandchildren…they send me photos of what they’re up to. And my daughter sends me a message every day. Sometimes it feels like I’m holding her hand.”

Gilchrist’s experience doesn’t surprise Durand at all.

“This is what I love about our mandate,” she explains. “It’s all about teaching, debunking, and myth busting.”

For more information on this organization, visit www.acaging.ca.

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Sarah Junkin has been writing professionally for more than two decades. She knows how to use hoaching and blootered correctly in a sentence, and since immigrating to Canada she's become passionate about telling the stories of ordinary Canadians who have done extraordinary things. Sarah is the mother of three grown men, recently became the grandmother of the most beautiful child in the world and has a husband who is oddly tall and makes her laugh every day.