The Seniors’ Outdoor Activation Toolkit tells the story of a partnership between WoodGreen Community Services, 8 80 Cities and over 100 seniors who saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to flip the standard for seniors programming in parks and public spaces.
Before COVID-19, programming for seniors was confined to indoor spaces. The pandemic prevented meeting indoors, and our parks and public spaces quickly turned into an opportunity to meet the needs of seniors and their caregivers.
Through Federal funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program, we trialled several parks and public spaces in Toronto’s east side with fun and interactive programming to prove the potential of these spaces to serve its senior populations.
These trials included the repurposing of covered ice rinks, dormant in the summer, into shaded oases for seniors’ Zumba classes, and transforming an old shuffleboard slab into an accessible space for a drum circle.
The purpose of these adaptive reuses of space was to prove that programming for seniors can and should take place outdoors to utilize its health benefits, social comradery and the capacity for pandemic-resilient activities, and to advocate for investment in all parks and public spaces across Toronto and beyond to meet the needs of seniors.
The New Horizons for Seniors Program’s aim is to “make a difference in the lives of seniors and their communities.” Through the Seniors’ Outdoor Activation Toolkit we proved that Toronto’s parks and public spaces have the capacity to become safe, accessible, fun and programmable spaces for seniors in hopes of making a difference in the lives of people of all ages and abilities.
Read the Toolkit, get inspired and get outdoors!
You can also read a version of the Toolkit in French.