Seniors’ program continues to flourish in Beaver Valley

Beaver Valley's Age-friendly Program (AFP) has been engaging seniors in numerous activities and social events with great success.

Since its implementation last year, the Beaver Valley’s Age-friendly Program (AFP) has been engaging seniors in numerous activities and social events with great success.

Last week the Ministry of Health awarded the program Age-friendly B.C. Recognition, which included an award poster and $1,000 grant to be put towards a legacy project or celebration.

The program first started gaining traction when, in 2009 through 2010, the Village of Fruitvale received its first grant to begin revising the Official Community Plan (OCP) and carry out OCP consultations and focus sessions with seniors.

“We wanted to ensure the aging demographics were involved in community planning,” said Lila Cresswell, Chief Administrator for the village.

After gathering sufficient information the next step was to facilitate a seniors program and hire a coordinator. A second grant was approved in March 2012, and the village was able to hire Vickie Fitzpatrick the following month.

“There have always been many programs for seniors but before this we had no tools to show them what was out there,” Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s all about social inclusion and healthy activities for seniors,” explained Cresswell, who is heavily involved with the program as well.

Activities such as bowling, yoga, balance classes and ceramics, are only a few of the ways seniors in the Beaver Valley are getting active and involved in the community.

Luncheons are held each month at the Beaver Valley manor as a social event where the seniors are served healthy, delicious meals, and after, they can take home the recipes and make them themselves. The luncheons are clear evidence that the AFP program is succeeding, with the most recent one drawing in around 140 attendees.

At the end of these luncheons the seniors fill out a survey where they say what they want to be done within the program. And this is where the meat of the program originates.

“Nothing that they’ve asked for have we said we can’t do this. If they want it we will try to do it,” Fitzpatrick remarked.

Along with activities, the AFP offers various other services to seniors that would otherwise be difficult for them to attain.

“Transportation is a major issue for seniors in this area,” Fitzpatrick said.

To help combat this problem the AFP has established a volunteer driver program where members of the community, after meeting certain criteria, will chauffeur elderly citizens from point A to point B and back again if needed.

Another tool AFP has constructed to make seniors lives a little easier is the “Handy Person List.”

Cresswell explained this as a list of highly recommended businesses that have the time and expertise to assist seniors very quickly. This list is important to seniors because with many local businesses having expanded so much they are often too busy to help immediately.

The major success of the AFP can partially be attributed to the backing it has received by Fruitvale’s council and Mayor Patricia Cecchini, who are all very involved with securing funding and volunteering.

“I’ve learned so much from these events. I just hate to miss them,” Cecchini said.

“It’s important to remember, even though our appearance changes our spirit doesn’t. And we pride ourselves on community spirit in Fruitvale.”

The AFP has been such a success that the village has decided to fund it via the parks and recreation program.

The next luncheon will be held April 16. For more information on the program and its services or if you are interested in volunteering, contact Fitzpatrick at vickief@telus.net.