FOCUS ON SENIORS: Tell me a story: Chapter Two

Opinion Oct 01, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

‘Tell me a story,” a Brant News article written Aug. 6, elicited tremendous response. What happened? Why was this story so different?

You may recall the story described an experimental course being offered at Laurier Brantford. Designed with components that are open to community members as well as students, it is part of a new and evolving partnership between Laurier Brantford and the Grand River Council on Aging. Students enrolled in the course Reading-Writing Life Narratives will be joined by community participants for the first hour of the weekly three-hour class. The course runs from Sept. 23 to Dec. 9.

Organizers expected enrolment. That was the whole purpose of the class. And that did happen.

But there was more. The first unexpected response was that the article became the top trending story on the Brant News website for that week. Focus on Seniors has been a weekly feature for the past 18 months but this was the first time one of the Grand River Council on Aging stories had received such a high level of interest.

A few days later, the professor of the course, Michael Ackerman, received a phone call from CBC radio. He was out of the country at the time.

The producers were in such a hurry to get the information, they offered to conduct a phone interview. Instead, a live interview took place a week after the story was published. While the audio clip of the interview was not retained, the CBC did post a short write up describing the writing course and the partnership.

That posting generated extremely high interest from the public. Within the first few days following the interview, the written piece from the CBC website had been tweeted and retweeted (shared) more than 2,500 times. By comparison, the next top story that day by CBC generated 74 tweets.

Following the CBC piece, Ackerman started getting calls from people living in other communities asking for more information. Could they join in? Was there a distance education component available?

At the same time, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) was fielding calls and emails from people wanting to sign up for the class. The high level of chatter was very exciting.

The excitement generated confirms that older adults are paying attention. They are reading the Brant News and listening to the CBC for news and information. The paper and the radio serve to educate and inform the public. It also confirms that older adults are keen to further their education.

The first class took place on Sept. 23. There were 16 community participants and 16 students in the course.

As a board member of GRCOA, Ackerman went to great lengths to find the most age-friendly location on campus he could find. The Dalhousie Centre at 274 Colborne St. was chosen. This location boasts lots of parking and is on one floor. It is easily accessible and, once inside, is easy to navigate. The classroom has good lighting and sufficient space to accommodate wider aisles between tables and chairs.

There is no cost for community participants. The course is free and so is parking.

During that first class, all the participants introduced themselves and gave reasons for wanting to be involved. One gentleman reported that after reading that seniors can enrol for a degree at no cost, he signed up for the class and signed up to be a full-time student. This was a wonderful response to the first story.

The reasons for being there were varied and interesting. What stood out was a shared interest in writing.

Ackerman opened the class with a story.

In Germany, a 102-year-old woman had just successfully defended her doctoral thesis. This incredible achievement was even more remarkable given that she had survived the Nazi regime. She had completed her thesis in 1938, but because her mother was Jewish she was denied the chance to defend it. The class was suitably impressed with this achievement.

The participants completed a small exercise to get their creative abilities going and worked in pairs of senior and student.  

Over the coming weeks, the class will look at narrative writing and various genres. It will be about stories.

And perhaps that’s why the class has received such keen interest from the public. We all have personal stories rooted in lived experience. Learning new ways to share and document them is very powerful – at any age.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Tell me a story: Chapter Two

Senior-student storytelling class at Laurier generates buzz

Opinion Oct 01, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

‘Tell me a story,” a Brant News article written Aug. 6, elicited tremendous response. What happened? Why was this story so different?

You may recall the story described an experimental course being offered at Laurier Brantford. Designed with components that are open to community members as well as students, it is part of a new and evolving partnership between Laurier Brantford and the Grand River Council on Aging. Students enrolled in the course Reading-Writing Life Narratives will be joined by community participants for the first hour of the weekly three-hour class. The course runs from Sept. 23 to Dec. 9.

Organizers expected enrolment. That was the whole purpose of the class. And that did happen.

But there was more. The first unexpected response was that the article became the top trending story on the Brant News website for that week. Focus on Seniors has been a weekly feature for the past 18 months but this was the first time one of the Grand River Council on Aging stories had received such a high level of interest.

A few days later, the professor of the course, Michael Ackerman, received a phone call from CBC radio. He was out of the country at the time.

The producers were in such a hurry to get the information, they offered to conduct a phone interview. Instead, a live interview took place a week after the story was published. While the audio clip of the interview was not retained, the CBC did post a short write up describing the writing course and the partnership.

That posting generated extremely high interest from the public. Within the first few days following the interview, the written piece from the CBC website had been tweeted and retweeted (shared) more than 2,500 times. By comparison, the next top story that day by CBC generated 74 tweets.

Following the CBC piece, Ackerman started getting calls from people living in other communities asking for more information. Could they join in? Was there a distance education component available?

At the same time, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) was fielding calls and emails from people wanting to sign up for the class. The high level of chatter was very exciting.

The excitement generated confirms that older adults are paying attention. They are reading the Brant News and listening to the CBC for news and information. The paper and the radio serve to educate and inform the public. It also confirms that older adults are keen to further their education.

The first class took place on Sept. 23. There were 16 community participants and 16 students in the course.

As a board member of GRCOA, Ackerman went to great lengths to find the most age-friendly location on campus he could find. The Dalhousie Centre at 274 Colborne St. was chosen. This location boasts lots of parking and is on one floor. It is easily accessible and, once inside, is easy to navigate. The classroom has good lighting and sufficient space to accommodate wider aisles between tables and chairs.

There is no cost for community participants. The course is free and so is parking.

During that first class, all the participants introduced themselves and gave reasons for wanting to be involved. One gentleman reported that after reading that seniors can enrol for a degree at no cost, he signed up for the class and signed up to be a full-time student. This was a wonderful response to the first story.

The reasons for being there were varied and interesting. What stood out was a shared interest in writing.

Ackerman opened the class with a story.

In Germany, a 102-year-old woman had just successfully defended her doctoral thesis. This incredible achievement was even more remarkable given that she had survived the Nazi regime. She had completed her thesis in 1938, but because her mother was Jewish she was denied the chance to defend it. The class was suitably impressed with this achievement.

The participants completed a small exercise to get their creative abilities going and worked in pairs of senior and student.  

Over the coming weeks, the class will look at narrative writing and various genres. It will be about stories.

And perhaps that’s why the class has received such keen interest from the public. We all have personal stories rooted in lived experience. Learning new ways to share and document them is very powerful – at any age.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Tell me a story: Chapter Two

Senior-student storytelling class at Laurier generates buzz

Opinion Oct 01, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

‘Tell me a story,” a Brant News article written Aug. 6, elicited tremendous response. What happened? Why was this story so different?

You may recall the story described an experimental course being offered at Laurier Brantford. Designed with components that are open to community members as well as students, it is part of a new and evolving partnership between Laurier Brantford and the Grand River Council on Aging. Students enrolled in the course Reading-Writing Life Narratives will be joined by community participants for the first hour of the weekly three-hour class. The course runs from Sept. 23 to Dec. 9.

Organizers expected enrolment. That was the whole purpose of the class. And that did happen.

But there was more. The first unexpected response was that the article became the top trending story on the Brant News website for that week. Focus on Seniors has been a weekly feature for the past 18 months but this was the first time one of the Grand River Council on Aging stories had received such a high level of interest.

A few days later, the professor of the course, Michael Ackerman, received a phone call from CBC radio. He was out of the country at the time.

The producers were in such a hurry to get the information, they offered to conduct a phone interview. Instead, a live interview took place a week after the story was published. While the audio clip of the interview was not retained, the CBC did post a short write up describing the writing course and the partnership.

That posting generated extremely high interest from the public. Within the first few days following the interview, the written piece from the CBC website had been tweeted and retweeted (shared) more than 2,500 times. By comparison, the next top story that day by CBC generated 74 tweets.

Following the CBC piece, Ackerman started getting calls from people living in other communities asking for more information. Could they join in? Was there a distance education component available?

At the same time, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) was fielding calls and emails from people wanting to sign up for the class. The high level of chatter was very exciting.

The excitement generated confirms that older adults are paying attention. They are reading the Brant News and listening to the CBC for news and information. The paper and the radio serve to educate and inform the public. It also confirms that older adults are keen to further their education.

The first class took place on Sept. 23. There were 16 community participants and 16 students in the course.

As a board member of GRCOA, Ackerman went to great lengths to find the most age-friendly location on campus he could find. The Dalhousie Centre at 274 Colborne St. was chosen. This location boasts lots of parking and is on one floor. It is easily accessible and, once inside, is easy to navigate. The classroom has good lighting and sufficient space to accommodate wider aisles between tables and chairs.

There is no cost for community participants. The course is free and so is parking.

During that first class, all the participants introduced themselves and gave reasons for wanting to be involved. One gentleman reported that after reading that seniors can enrol for a degree at no cost, he signed up for the class and signed up to be a full-time student. This was a wonderful response to the first story.

The reasons for being there were varied and interesting. What stood out was a shared interest in writing.

Ackerman opened the class with a story.

In Germany, a 102-year-old woman had just successfully defended her doctoral thesis. This incredible achievement was even more remarkable given that she had survived the Nazi regime. She had completed her thesis in 1938, but because her mother was Jewish she was denied the chance to defend it. The class was suitably impressed with this achievement.

The participants completed a small exercise to get their creative abilities going and worked in pairs of senior and student.  

Over the coming weeks, the class will look at narrative writing and various genres. It will be about stories.

And perhaps that’s why the class has received such keen interest from the public. We all have personal stories rooted in lived experience. Learning new ways to share and document them is very powerful – at any age.