By: Liz Martorano

As I sit to write the article for the September issue of BScene I’m reminded of how fast time seems to travel. Graciously, Jason Freeze sends an urgent reminder to submit, and I hear his voice telling me how Brantastic our city is, and the decision to share the following is made.

This month’s article is a reflection of how far we’ve travelled through SKIP. For those that are not aware of the heart behind the Senior’s & Kid’s Intergenerational Programs, I will give you a glimpse of how a grassroots not-for-profit has grown.

On September 22, 2004 my Mom passed from our lives into her resting place. Through the years leading up to her passing our family grew into a broader family with the seniors at a long-term care facility, Brierwood Gardens. From September 2004 – December our hearts grew heavy for the elders we visited daily for close to 3 years.

After much prayer we decided to try and solve the problem of social isolation by sending a classroom to visit the seniors, and thought that Brierwood wouldn’t be the only place where seniors were lonely, therefore we extended invitations to all the facilities and schools that year.

To our surprise, in September 2005 we had 22 classes signed up to visit 9 senior facilities. Coordinating the visits for schools and facilities within walking distance was and still is our greatest challenge in order to minimize busing expenses.

There were many people along the way that helped shape SKIP, give what we do a name, and have our programs develop into many diverse styles. Rotary-Sunrise stepped up to help support us in many ways, and other private individuals donated generously. Nancy Romenenko (YMCA) passed on a valuable message to me, and that was to never forget the reason why SKIP started.

I could name many more contributors, but that would limit the message behind this reflection.
We are growing, and it is painful, just as many charities experience this. Communities from around the country and world are reaching out to us to learn more of what we do. After piloting SKIP-in-a-Box in Windsor and doubling their classes this fall, I have to say we are seeing some fruit from our labours.

This season of growth has led me to challenge our community in owning SKIP in their neighbourhoods. Look around, take notice of the elders that may need a brief chat, cut their grass, rake leaves or shovel snow. Maybe even ask if they need anything at the store or offer a ride to get groceries.

SKIP isn’t anything new, intergenerational living is natural for many cultures and it enriches the shaping of the younger generations. Being together actually gives all of us purpose and a sense of belonging, while contributing to the community we call home. That’s the heart behind SKIP, and if you were at the Brantford Burst Colour Run/Walk on Grandparents Day you would have experienced that.

Please join us in building an age-friendly, healthy Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk by volunteering with us or simply sharing your contribution on our website so we can battle to unite the young & elders together.

Many blessings,