Ponoka was officially designated as Alberta’s first Senior Friendly community on May 27 at the Alberta Council on Aging Annual General Meeting in Red Deer.
“Ponoka should be very proud of the ‘trailblazing’ community participation that was required for this initiative to succeed – from both the volunteers involved and the businesses and organizations that participated,” said chair of the Senior Friendly committee and economic development officer Carey Keleman.
The program was developed by the Alberta Council on Aging and they were very impressed with the community’s participation in the program.
The Senior Friendly committee had been dedicated to making businesses and organizations more fitting for seniors. The committee encouraged businesses to sign up for the program and trained them to make the necessary changes.
In Ponoka 23 businesses and organizations completed the steps of the program and 128 members of Ponoka have taken the Senior Friendly seminar.
Requirements involved having a minimum 60 per cent of front-line staff take part in a ‘Senior Friendly’ seminar, and participating in a ‘Senior Friendly’ checkup of their facility. The Senior Friendly Seminars were delivered by four community trainers and the checkups were completed by senior members of the community.
“The volunteers are what made this initiative succeed – especially the seminar trainers and the senior volunteers that completed the facility checkups,” said Keleman.
According to the Canadian census 13.7 per cent of Canadians are seniors and this number is set to reach 20 per cent by the year 2021 and 25 per cent in 2031.
Keleman believes that the program is beneficial to both the seniors in the community as well as contributing to the growth of the town.
“As seniors are an increasingly growing segment of our society’s demographic, this program is helpful for communities, businesses and organizations to have a better awareness and understanding of Senior’s needs and issues,” she said. “And in doing so, providing better customer service and creating an environment that assists in retaining and attracting seniors to our community.”