Literacy and Community Engagement for Older Adults

Apr 17, 2017

“Congratulations to Seniors Kingston and Literacy Kingston for this successful collaboration promoting literacy and community engagement!”

A recent Community Grant enabled Seniors Kingston and Kingston Literacy to use an innovative approach to help seniors who are new to Canada to learn English through workshops and field trips focusing on creative arts, heritage, health and wellness.  Participants have come from China, the Ukraine, Syria and other Asian countries as immigrants, permanent residents, newcomers or refugees.  Class size has been as high as eighteen although numbers vary from week to week.

Activities have included workshops on the art of tangling, collage, photography and poetry while field trips have ranged from the Open Voices Community Choir Fall 2016 concert to the Kingston Symphony’s performance of The Hockey Sweater.   Each class or field trip provides an opportunity to learn vocabulary specific to that experience.  For example, the collage workshop leader selected key words such as collage, glue, paper, happy and sad to highlight throughout the workshop.   Those words are used again in subsequent classes.  In addition to vocabulary building, the classes enable participants to experience diverse elements of life in our community.  Best of all, they clearly have fun doing so!

A recent guided tour of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre demonstrated the success of this interactive approach.  Docents guided the group through a fascinating collection of pencil drawings by Inuit men and women living on Baffin Island as well as three works by Rembrandt.  An x-radiograph of his Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo, revealed changes made to the original painting over the years by the artist and others.  There was lots of chatter and laughter as the group moved through the galleries, responding to the works of art and the docents’ words.  At the end of the tour, the class played a game to identify common elements in paintings, then adjourned to a meeting room to talk about their experience and review the day’s vocabulary.

Congratulations to Seniors Kingston and Literacy Kingston for this successful collaboration promoting literacy and community engagement!

Article by: Linda Lysne

UPDATE: Watch a video showcasing the success of this program here.

CFKA NOTES: This program received a generous grant through our Community Grants program in the amount of $13,078 funded through the Kingston Whig Standard Literacy Endowment Fund, the Theda Anderson Fund and the Elisabeth Heney Fund for Literacy.


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