Saskatoon park bench aims to connect young people and seniors

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Saskatoon park bench aims to connect young people and seniors
WATCH ABOVE: A new park bench in Saskatoon is focused on bridging the gap between seniors and youth in the community. – Aug 7, 2018

It’s a green park bench with a simple invitation to have a seat with a senior.

On Saturday afternoon, Muriel Baxter, 82, was sharing a bit of what she’s learned over the years at the ElderWisdomYXE bench.

“My advice for young people is I’d really like them to focus on personal relationships and maybe be a little careful with use of electronics,” said Baxter, a retired social worker.

The bench project was brought to the city by Saskatoon Services for Seniors, along with a group of young people. The idea originated from ElderWisdom benches at care homes in Ontario.

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“Instead of having it at care homes, we decided to have it at events in the city that were more geared towards young people, so places where older people aren’t usually seen,” explained Brittany Yaganiski, the bench organizer and Saskatoon Services for Seniors volunteer.

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The ElderWisdomYXE bench is located on the lawn at Victoria School on Broadway Avenue and will be in place throughout the Fringe Festival.

Seniors representing diversity in the community, ranging in age from 75 to 101, will be participating as bench ambassadors throughout the August long weekend, as well as next Saturday.

“Seniors have that life experience and they have lessons that are invaluable and stories that are just so interesting to listen to,” said Yaganiski.

Yaganiski hopes the bench benefits not only young people and community members, but seniors as well.

“It can be their way to connect to the world today. So often, [seniors] are isolated in the community and aren’t included in everyday activities in the city,” said Yaganiski.

“We need to understand their world today which is different than our world. The pressures that they’re experiencing are very different than what we had,” said Baxter.

Yaganiski hopes to transport the bench to other events in the city, with the end goal of making the concept permanent.

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