A Few Short Minutes of #ElderWisdom to Change Perspectives

A young lady named Ashley walks through Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park during her lunch break on a random day in June. A green bench comes into view with an older gentleman sitting upon it and another beside the bench in a wheelchair. The word #Elderwisdom adorns the back of the bench while curiosity draws her closer; she’s invited to join these gentlemen in a short conversation. 

This is a snapshot in time, a few short moments where perceived barriers between generations evaporate in the lovely summer air and strangers almost become friends.   

Sometimes a few moments are all that are needed for
two people to bridge the gaps of generations. 

In a message later sent to the Schlegel Villages #Elderwisdom campaign via Instagram, Ashley recounts what those moments meant to her and in her short message, she captures the simple essence of what this campaign is all about.

“Even though it was only for a short time,” Ashley writes, “I just wanted to let you know how great of an experience it was. What an extraordinary campaign that allows us to connect with the elderly in such a casual fashion.

“It brightened my day tremendously.”

John and Bob from Maynard and Fairview Nursing Homes in Toronto who sat with Ashley and several other new friends that day should be proud of the inspiration they offered.

Across the province throughout the month of June, stories like this unfolded in parks and public spaces where every Schlegel Village set up an #ElderWisdom bench and residents took time to speak with passersby who had a few minutes to spare.

A few minutes; that seems to be the key theme to emerge this year, as time and again people like Ashley commented about how those few minutes can make all the difference in changing perceptions of the role of the elder in our communities.

“The idea of taking those five minutes out of your lunchtime and chatting with a stranger, a senior, can give someone a whole different mindset,” says Ted Mahy, Schlegel Villages director of online engagement and a key spearhead behind the #ElderWisdom campaign.

“It’s not just about getting people sitting upon the bench. It’s the fact that they’re seeing what we’re doing and they’ve heard about why we’re doing it.”

And villages are taking this message beyond the month of June, realizing they can build connections within their communities any time of year. Karen Andrews from Coleman Care Centre in Barrie, for example, is working alongside residents to create events in July and in the fall at places like the public library and Georgian College. A local Starbucks is even looking to host an #Elderwisdom event.

“It really hit me that I could do more things with (the #ElderWisdom bench),” Karen says, “and I feel like when we’re doing these things we’re helping change people’s perspectives.”

Originally posted by Kristian Partington at Schlegel Villages | July 12, 2019

Sharing #ElderWisdom on the Neighbourhood

The Colchester Neighbourhood at the Village at St. Clair brought the #ElderWisdom Green bench to the neighbourhood for an afternoon. The neighbours and team members spent a few minutes chatting and engaging in meaningful conversation while the neighbours shared their #ElderWisdom! Many enjoyed a special treat of ice cream together as well.

Here is some of the #ElderWisdom that was shared by the Colchester neighbours:

  • Treat others with respect!
  • Hard work and my faith in God make me stronger.
  • Encourage young people to get a good education and always save for a rainy day.
  • Try everything! You never know until you try.
  • Always be friendly and smile!
  • Don’t forget to call those you love!

Stay tuned as the village continues the #ElderWisdom conversation year around!

#ElderWisdom Bench Visits Schlegel Villages Pursuit of Passions

On June 5th, the #ElderWisdom Green bench attended Schlegel Villages Wisdom of the Elder Event. This years event was Pursuit of Passions, where each village was able to taste and share recipes with each other.

A lot of great wisdom, laughter and smiles were shared on the #ElderWisdom bench. Check out some #ElderWisdom that was shared below:

Darlene shared “To love your family.” and “Share you passion with others.”

” Life will throw you challenges, continue to move forward” and “continue to learn through life” was the wisdom Raymond shared.

Ann shared “Smile. When you get up in the morning, smile!” 🙂

“Laughter is the best medicine” according to Doc.

Doreen shared “Communication is key” and “be involved”.

Honour the wisdom of an elder, and sit and have a conversation!

Read the Village Voice Story

#ElderWisdom Twitter Chat with Ron Schlegel

On Monday, June 10th at 3:30 in the afternoon, Ron Schlegel joined the #ElderWisdom campaign on Twitter to answer some submitted questions to him. We will share some of those questions and answers here for you. If you wish to participate in the conversation, view the following tweet and the replies attached to it.

Q: A question from @SchlegelCentre to @RonaldPSchlegel. Given your incredible expertise and generosity, what advice do you have for young people looking for a career in seniors care?

A: It is a fulling and meaningful career. Senior living is a good area to select because it doesn’t take much to make a senior’s day. Very little interface with a senior and they are so appreciative and hence highly rewarding back to yourself.

Q: A question from @DaveJaworsky. Canada is an affluent country, yet there are still many needs. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved and help out?

A: There are many many needs in society so its important that one selects the area that interests them and to which they can contribute. It’s important to commit one’s self to continue until a difference is made. Passion needs to be demonstrated throughout.

Q: A question from @jjluhkim. If you had a magic wand and you were able to fast forward 10 years from now, what would that ideal future of Schlegel Villages look like?

A: We would continue with our town square/main street villages but adding more choice points for seniors. Including expanded fitness facilities, possibly swimming pool/sauna/hot tub. Also, add smart homes as an additional living choice on our campus.

Follow @RonaldPSchlegel on Twitter and feel free to ask him a question as he learns how to use this tool.

#ElderWisdom Chalkboard Wall

As a part of our Culture Change Journey Coleman painted a portion of main street with chalkboard paint to encourage meaningful and shared activities and also to promote Gratitude throughout the village.  We have changed the theme of the wall monthly and June was changed to reflect Senior’s Month and Wisdom of the Elder.  We have encouraged team members, residents, family members and volunteers to share some wisdom they have received from an elder in their life, especially those that call Coleman their home.  We have also asked what we can do to help our residents live their best life and here are some of the things we have come up with:

Remember that they are someone’s Grandparent, Mother, Father, etc.  They aren’t just a Resident in a home.  They used to live a life only they can tell.

Keep them active!

Give them a voice and advocate for those that don’t have one.

By providing an opportunity for the residents to try something new and challenge their skills.

Have patience when they ask you to repeat..

By loving them everyday

“Think hard.  Think before you Act”- Betty H

“Don’t get old, you do stupid things”- Doris K

“Never judge a book by it’s cover”- Tom P

“Love every moment”- Bruce P

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”- Doris K

We look forward to seeing what else make it onto the wall.  We also can’t wait for June 27th when we get to bring down 3 residents to sit on the bench and converse and share some wisdom with the community in Barrie!  –Event Details

Seniors from Winston Park share outside Kitchener City Hall

Seniors from The Village of Winston Park brought the #ElderWisdom bench to the community. We are fighting ageism together by encouraging conversation while sharing the importance of seniors contributions to their community.

The #ElderWisdom bench at the Kitchener City Hall

Date: Friday, June 29th, 2018

Listen to 570 News where Mike Farwell talks to Carl about the #ElderWisdom campaign and his thoughts on the aging stigmas in society. 570 News Clip

Pinehaven Nursing Home share conversations in Uptown Waterloo

Seniors from Pinehaven Nursing Home brought the #ElderWisdom bench to the community. We are fighting ageism together by encouraging conversation while sharing the importance of seniors contributions to their community.

The #ElderWisdom bench at the Uptown Waterloo Public Square

Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Seniors Share Wisdom in Waterloo | CTV

“Give credit to God! He gives me strength to carry on day by day and He has never left me and never forsaken me. Through life I have learned and have come to understand who God is and embrace His good morals to love and care for others. So I can live a good life the Lord would have me live.” -Lena

“There is nothing more important than love and loving others.” -Lena

#ElderWisdom celebrated in Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto

Seniors from Maynard Nursing Home and Fairview Nursing Home brought the #ElderWisdom benches to the community. We are fighting ageism together by encouraging conversation while sharing the importance of seniors contributions to their community.


The #ElderWisdom bench at the Trinity Bellwoods Park

Date: Friday, June 15th, 2018

Need Advice? Pop-Up Park Bench Invites You To Talk With A Senior | Toronto Storeys

Need some advice on your job, dating, travel? Have a seat with a senior | CBC Toronto


“Always be polite. A person smiles at you, smile back.”

Sharing wisdom outside Guelph City Hall

Seniors from The Village of Riverside Glen and The Village of Arbour Trails brought the #ElderWisdom bench to the community. We are fighting ageism together by encouraging conversation while sharing the importance of seniors contributions to their community.

The #ElderWisdom bench at Guelph Market Square

Date: Thursday, June 14th, 2018


Guelph seniors share some wisdom | Guelph Mercury Tribune

#ElderWisdom: Seniors share their experiences | CTV Kitchener

Norm & Jack co-host the 107.5 Dave Rocks morning show [Social Post]

Guelph Today | May 24, 2018

“We in the Western World confess, that our forebears were wrong when they assumed that White Men and Women were the superior race.” -John

Audrey chats with the Brampton Community

Seniors from The Village of Sandalwood Park brought the #ElderWisdom bench to the community. We are fighting ageism together by encouraging conversation while sharing the importance of seniors contributions to their community.

The #ElderWisdom bench in Brampton on June 13, 2018

“The best thing about being a senior is that I get to do practically anything I want.” -Audrey

Brampton senior takes part in #ElderWisdom community visit | Brampton Guardian