Riverview has some very special qualities as a community – people care about living here and many volunteer to keep the community a vibrant place for individuals and families.  Many older adults have lived in Riverview for 20 to 50 years, and want to stay in the community as long as possible. 

In 2017, a few local residents who see this community as a great place to live got together in 2017 to discuss their mutual interest in continuing to live in Riverview as they aged and in finding happy, healthy, productive ways to do so.  To look at possibilities, we created a small organization called “Age Friendly Riverview”.  We applied for a grant from New Horizons and were granted $25,000 to develop programs. The project was supposed to be 3 years and would have ended in 2020, but because of COVID, it was extended to 2023.

Simultaneously with the local committee getting started, the Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba was conducting a study of the age-friendliness of several communities, which included Riverview. The U of M Age-Friendly Riverview study took place from July through September 2018.  Ten local residents volunteered to participate as citizen scientists and collected data about the age-friendliness of Riverview. They identified the need for changes in infrastructure (e.g. better sidewalks, more transportation options) but also the need for programs to overcome social isolation.

Coffee and Crib

The new group that had formed as Age Friendly Riverview, took some of the ideas that had risen at community meetings and began developing programs.

One of the first was a series of interactive seminars, using local residents as speakers and encouraging conversation and debate.  They were called the CRISP lectures (Creative, Relevant, Intelligent, Social, Positive), opening with Riverview resident, Jino Distasio, on the History of Riverview.  This was followed by three other lectures from knowledgeable Riverview/Lord Roberts residents;  Keeping up Your Bone Health with Emily Hunter and Building Soil Health with Rod Kueneman and one with Sherri Rollins on What’s Happening in the City.

At the same time, members of Age Friendly were talking to residents to see if there was an interest in starting a Men’s Shed.  A person involved in other Men Shed agreed to meet with us and was instrumental in helping start up the Riverview Men’s Shed.

Several older adults had expressed an interest in writing and a six-week course on Creative Writing for Older Adults with Leslie Peterson was organized.

But COVID  presented a problem for us.  Much of our proposed activities were in groups and people were reluctant to leave their homes.  So we created two COVID-related initiatives. One was called HiYa Neighbours, which was meant to get volunteers to help older adults who might have trouble getting groceries or shovelling snow.  A number of people volunteered to help but, no one identified that they needed help.

That has been one of the learnings from these initiatives.  Some older adults are computer savvy, but most are not.  Social media posts do not reach many older adults.  Getting the word out to them requires door-to-door flyers, posters, the Reflector, or learning about events from a neighbour.

We also tried Story Telling for Kids by Seniors on Zoom, for kids who were stuck at home during COVID.  But the response was limited.

During this time as well, Age Friendly Riverview contracted with a student, Madeline Schon, to research the needs of Older Adults in Riverview.  She worked with Gina Sylvestre from the Institute of Urban Studies. The report was intended to be useful for future planning for senior’s programming.  (Available on request from agefriendlyriverview@gmail.com0

In mid-COVID, the committee was also able to hire a part-time co-ordinator to help organize programs, particularly as restrictions due to COVID were being lifted.  That person was Cathy Hunter, to whom we are very grateful for her organizing skills and her enthusiasm in making things happen.

When restrictions were somewhat limited, there were three more CRISP lectures.  One with Linda Olson on The Basics of Composting and the other with Jim Strong on What keeps Virologists up at Night?  The third was on Housing Options for Older Adults with Beverly Suek.

Because of demand, a second Creative Writing Course was organized and a third is planned for September or October 2023.

And then there was Pickleball. Pickleball seemed popular everywhere, so we thought it might be an option at Riverview Community Centre.  Cathy organized a number of sessions on how to play pickleball with an instructor and Age Friendly Riverview purchased some of the equipment.  And yes, it was popular! RVCC is managing the program and has expanded it to outdoors.

There is also Coffee and Crib, organized by Cathy,  for people to drop into the club once a week and meet new people and have conversations.

Throughout this time, Age Friendly Riverview has partnered with Riverview Community Centre who have been supportive of these initiatives, provided space, and helped us advertise.  We would like to thank the Board and Staff for their help.

Indoor Pickleball

We had intended this to be a 3-year project, to perhaps spark some new ideas for the community and to showcase local older adults who have so much to contribute.  We hope we have achieved that and that some of these will continue and new ideas will immerge.

This is a great community and we were happy to have had the opportunity to contribute.

May Wady

Joe Distasio

Beverly Suek