Tofino’s recreation programmer Pam Zwicker created a new COVID-19 safe program for seniors under the banner W.A.V.E.S., which stands for “Wellness Activities for Valued and Extraordinary Seniors”.
In partnership with the Pacific Rim Hospice Society and funded by a $25,000 grant from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, W.A.V.E.S. will work to identify seniors who may need extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that have been imposed.
Programming is set to begin this month and will run until mid-2021. Zwicker said W.A.V.E.S. includes virtual yoga and chi gong, a ‘Better with a Buddy’ initiative, and free P.P.E. (personal protective equipment) packages for seniors.
“We look forward to continuing our support through programs and services that help to decrease the impact of COVID-19 on seniors with the impacts of COVID-19, particularly with social isolation during a time of physical distancing,” said Zwicker in a media release.
“Supporting the ability of seniors to stay connected with their community and their family by using technology and providing training and devices that allow them to do so will be a key piece of this program,” she continues.
Tofino senior Robert Love, 78, said he misses the mutual support that came with regular in-person gatherings.
“We really miss the Friday morning meetings. The social contact was really enriching,” said Love.
He said both him and his wife will most certainly try the virtual offerings coming in the fall.
“Tofino is a fragmented community in many ways,” said Love. “It’s harder for seniors to connect. I really appreciate Pam’s work and I hope to have [the Friday meetings] up back and running one day,” he said.
Zwicker said there will be no in-person seniors programming this fall.
“We want to keep them as safe as possible,” she said
The ‘Better with a Buddy’ initiative aims to help mitigate social isolation by creating intergenerational pairings. Zwicker said the goal is to partner seniors with locals in the younger generation. They can build a friendship by playing online chess or having a weekly phone call, she notes.
Tofino boasts over 450 community members aged 55 and better, according to Zwicker.
“One of the greatest strengths of our community is partnership. I am looking to support in helping us support our vulnerable community members. Businesses, individuals, groups… We are interested in connecting,” she said, adding that she is looking for online content to share with seniors (live stream or pre-recorded).
Anyone interested in engaging in the ‘Better with a Buddy’ initiative is encouraged to contact Zwicker at firstname.lastname@example.org.