Age-friendly partnership focuses on inclusion

Helping the Village of New Minas to become a more accessible and age-friendly community is the focus of a new partnership between New Minas and Acadia University. The project, “No one left behind: Accessibility and Inclusion of Older Adults in New Minas,” begins in May 2022 and is partly funded by a $10,000 Age-Friendly Communities Grant.

Rebecca Casey, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, will work with third-year sociology major Allie Delaney to examine the unique needs of older adults in New Minas and determine what changes are needed to make the community more accessible.

“This project is exciting, as it really incorporates a connection between undergraduate students and professors,” Casey says. “Although I am interested in this area of research, I likely wouldn't have pursued the project without Allie's engagement and enthusiasm.”

As the Admin & Accessibility Coordinator during a co-op term in New Minas last year, Delaney conducted an accessibility audit. On the strength of that experience and her interest in aging and disability, Delaney applied for the grant with Casey. “Allie helped write the grant,” Casey says. “She is using it for her co-op and honours thesis work. She has also recently found out that she received a Scotia Scholar award for her honours research.”

Making a positive impact

“I am very excited about the approval of the project,” Delaney says. “I am looking forward to making a positive impact on our older population. My honours thesis project will expand on my co-op work with the Village of New Minas and identify other barriers and help build partnerships to address the problems.”

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Acadia to learn more about how we can better serve our community,” says John Ansara, Interim Clerk Treasurer/CAO for the Village of New Minas. “Allie’s research will add to ongoing initiatives – such as the New Minas Secondary Plan, park improvements and beautification – and help guide future decision-making.”

The project has three main components. The first will be to conduct primary research to learn more about the lives of older adults in New Minas, focusing on their experiences related to accessibility and ageism. The second will be to evaluate the physical terrain of New Minas and map the inaccessible areas. The third will be to build connections with neighbouring communities and academic sites, including schools and NSCC, to address ageism and build intergenerational relationships.

It also dovetails with the courses Casey teaches on aging, disability, and research methods. “While most of this work can be completed by Allie during her co-op placement, her honours thesis work, and as a research assistant, I am planning to build some of the research components into a graduate methods class I'll be teaching in the fall of 2022,” she says. An Acadia Teaching Innovation Award that Casey has just received will be used for this class project. “My long-term goals are to expand this project to include other regions in the Valley – especially focusing on Wolfville, Kentville, Greenwich and incorporating Kings County more broadly.”

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