Alexine Hi, I’m Alexine with the Ottawa Public Library. Mobility constraints can make it challenging for some to leave their home. This can lead to loneliness and isolation. Good Companions Seniors’ Centre Without Walls helps to bridge that gap by giving people who are homebound the opportunity to socialize and connect over the phone. Laura My name is Laura Ward, I am the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls Coordinator. Seniors’ Centre Without Walls is a free interactive telephone-based program that connects seniors 55 years and older and also adults 18 years and older with physical disabilities who may find it hard to leave their homes for long periods of time due a variety of constraints. Through teleconferencing, our program is able to provide participants with the opportunity to obtain essential health-related information through professionals within their community, to engage in brain-stimulating activities, and later-life-learning opportunities. Most importantly, our program provides participants with a sense of being a part of a community, and the opportunity to create new and meaningful friendships. Alice My name is Alice Laferty. My family calls me ma-bell because I love to be on the phone and I love to talk to different people so that’s why I felt it was a good thing to join Seniors Centre Without Walls. Laura I will give you some examples from the current calenda. We have health and wellness presentations, we have a dietician coming to talk about the new Canadian Food Guide. We have a partnership with the Dementia Society and they come in regularly, this summer they presented What is Alzheimer’s? and will also be exploring the different types of Dementia. We also offer a weekly mindfulness practice, so on Monday mornings we come together and as a group listen to a guided mindfulness meditation and then we share how that experience was for us. Alice I like jeopardy, family feud, way with word, so I like all the game shows. I like the health shows too because I was in the healthcare field and I like to find out about all the new things that have come up because being legally blind I can’t read a lot of my health books. Laura We also have other types of presentation. This summer we had someone from the Humane Society talk about pets and pet care tips. We also had 2 student presenters from the City of Ottawa on Recycling, Compost or Garbage-where does it go? We also had a Lawyer come to talk about Power of Attorney and Wills. And then we have all kinds of interesting fun other programs, we also have Travelogues often they are seniors themselves who’ve travelled and share their experience, we have musicians who come on the phone and play music! Alice And other things like just chatting with fun facts and sports show that we do with Mike every third Thursday of the month. Then also the birthday parties. Laura We’ve got some exciting programs coming up we’re actually going to be offering a language circles program. This provides an opportunity for people to connect with others who want to speak in the same language they do. And you could be learning a language, so if you want to practice your Spanish skills in a group or you can just find people who speak your mother tongue. My favourite part about the program is when participants share ideas and experiences with each other, and they learn from each other. They ask for advice and find peers who have had similar experiences with knowledge that they can share. I love to be able to help bring people together and to see (hear) new connections being formed. Alexine Do you have any memorable experiences you’d like to share? Alice I’m a big Justin Trudeau fan so last year when he was on the call, that was a surprise! I was really thrilled to be talking to him. Laura I can think of two recent experiences that were similar, in both cases the participants who were using our program were no longer able to join programs due to serious health problems. The spouses of these participants, who were familiar with the program have both started to use the program themselves, during this difficult time they were separated from their loved ones but able to connect with others on the phone. The community on the phone is so warm and welcoming and I feel privileged to be able to facilitate these connections. Alice Talking to all the people on the phone that’s my favourite part, it’s made me much stronger and habitual. It’s good for me and lots of other people too! It makes a big difference, I really appreciate having this and I appreciate people wanting to be a part of it. Wanting me to be a part of this too. It means a lot, you don’t know how much.