LINKages Society of Alberta
Our Story Why We Exist
On June 1st, 2013, there was a big party in Downtown East Village (EV). Hundreds of people of all ages gathered for IG Day (Intergenerational Day) for dancing, singing, a barbeque and planting a community flower garden at Murdoch Manor, all organized by LINKages youth volunteers. Less than 20 days later, in the midst of mandatory evacuation orders, EV seniors scrambled to save their new garden from incoming flood waters.
East Village residents, most of them seniors, made up the largest single group of Calgary flood evacuees and would not return to their homes and belongings for almost two months. Through the ordeal, their young LINKages friends did their best to stay in touch and when it was time to come home, LINKages volunteers were there to help them settle in. Over 200 post-secondary students signed up to help with resettlement and made the core of what soon became University of Calgary’s LINKages Club.
The evacuation and resettlement catalyzed the relationship between LINKages Society and EV. Seniors were amazed and gratified that young people would help them out and be their friends “just because”. The youth volunteers were moved to help and inspired by the courage, sense of humour and perseverance of the seniors.
Almost two years later, LINKages has grown to a real EV partner, collaborating with seniors, the East Village Neighbourhood Association (EVNA), The Golden Age Club and other community partners to offer community events like annual Remembrance Day ceremonies and monthly games nights. A Wii Bowling tournament at the Golden Age Club drew dozens of seniors who came to try something new – including a 94-year-old who stepped up to Wii bowl with her walker!
As EV seniors come out to LINKages events, they get to know their neighbours better, see what’s happening in their neighbourhood and feel more connected to other services and groups as well. Friendships with U of C LINKages Club volunteers break through loneliness, isolation and sometimes mistrust some of the seniors may feel. And it’s a two-way street – our youth volunteers enjoy their senior friends, learn from them and are inspired by them to be really engaged in their community.
Without regular opportunities to connect, youth and seniors can develop misunderstandings about one another that lead to ageism and disregard for the gifts each generation has. Seniors lose their place as mentors, models and companions to young people and young people lose the opportunity to learn from and care for their elders.
Many U of C LINKages Club volunteers are alumni of our high school and junior high programs, which train youth to be compassionate, responsible volunteers and dispel fears and misconceptions teens and elderly people may have about one another. Their friendships lead to a new sense of belonging, purpose and engagement for both generations and help make Calgary communities places where people of all ages can contribute their strengths, talents and enthusiasm now and into the future.
You can find out more about our community and school-based programs at www.link-ages.ca.
Our Impact What We Do
At LINKages, we believe communities lose vital talent, experience, energy, heritage and empathy when we lose connection with the people in our neighbourhoods. We especially lose when we forget how much young people and elders have to offer each other.
When was the last time you had a meaningful interaction with someone significantly older or younger than you?
Unless you work with elderly people or children, you likely would have to try really hard to find opportunities to regularly connect with someone from a different generation and you might even be apprehensive about doing so. Often, we don’t live in the same city or even country we grew up in. Work and other commitments mean we don’t spend much time in our own neighbourhoods. Families are spread out, young children and teens spend their time in age-segregated classes and activities and older people tend to become former neighbours when they move to retirement communities or assisted living residences.
To counter the trend toward age segregation and even ageism, LINKages makes meaningful opportunities for youth ages 12-24 and seniors to be friends and mentors to each other. Our intergenerational programs and initiatives help create mutually beneficial relationships, responsible and caring volunteer opportunities, and impactful, inclusive community events and activities for youth and seniors. - Response from Colleen, School Programs Manager
Our Vision: A strong and vibrant community where youth and seniors thrive
Our Mission: To facilitate innovative intergenerational programs and services that encourage involvement, transfer of knowledge and capitalize on the strengths of youth and seniors to foster strong Alberta communities
Our Programs How We Do It
LINKages Society of Alberta offers a broad range of intergenerational programs and services. With 20 years of experience, we are recognized as an expert in designing and delivering research-based initiatives in Calgary and other communities throughout Alberta.We partner with donors to offer these programs to our students and seniors free-of-charge, so no one, young or old, is prevented from participating due to financial barriers.
Each year, over 700 youth and student volunteers participate in our school-based intergenerational programs and we touch a similar number of elders and young adults through our community-based programs. Last year, LINKages youth and senior volunteers contributed 16,000 volunteer hours!
We build connections and community through:
School-based Programs - junior high and high school students visit with seniors living in assisted-living facilities or retirement residences weekly or biweekly through the school year. Students are trained in how to be a responsible volunteer and they receive "instant-aging" training to help develop empathy and excellent communications and interpersonal skills through their LINKages experience. Schools and seniors' residence staff member liaisons work with LINKages to help ensure the success of the programs.
LINKages Program Coordinators design and facilitate activities to support beneficial connections where each generation learns from the other. One of the first reactions from both ages is happy surprise at how much the other generation is just like their own.
Tech Programs - LINKages offers shorter-term programs where student volunteers mentor seniors in computing and internet literacy. As with all our programs, these are designed to be beneficial and impactful to both generations. While the seniors are learning computer skills, their young teachers are also learning from their senior "students".
Community Initiatives - LINKages and the LINKages U of C club engage seniors through intergenerational events and activities in their neighbourhoods with an aim to decrease seniors' isolation and encourage community participation. LINKages connects with local community groups, agencies and services to determine effective and impactful ways to engage youth and seniors on a regular basis to help strengthen communities and build their social capacity.
Intergenerational Day (IG Day) - June 1st is IG Day! LINKages Society organizes events in Calgary that celebrate the joy of sharing experiences with people of all ages. 2015 is our 4th annual IG Day celebration. For the past several years, thousands of Calgarians have enjoyed IG Day activities at the East Village and Genesis Centre.
LINK Outreach (Linking Intergenerational Needs and Knowledge) - Communities throughout Alberta understand the benefits of intergenerational programs, but for these programs to be effective and successful over time, careful planning and knowledgeable delivery are of prime importance. LINKages offers workshops, practical advice and support on best practices for implementing intergenerational programs (IGPs) to communities throughout Alberta so that they can set up their own IGPs.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Teens and young adults growing in confidence, empathy and community engagement. Elders connecting with their young friends, sharing their knowledge and experience. All of us living in stronger,age-friendly communities. This is what LINKages is about and what your donations help us build!
There are a number of ways to donate to LINKages Society:
- Online through Canada Helps
- Mail cheques to
LINKages Society of Alberta
Bldg. K2, 3891 Trasimene Cres. SW
Calgary T3E 7J6
- Agents of Change - if you or someone you know is selling a house, through Agents of Change, you can find a real estate agent who will donate part of his or her commission to LINKages.
- Donate-a-Car will tow your old vehicle for free and donates proceeds of its auction sale or recycled value to LINKages.
- Go to Deliver Good to donate items like a fridge or office furniture or donate cash
- Contact our Executive Director, Mae Chun, or FD Coordinator, Carmen Wyatt for more information or for major donations.
You can also volunteer with LINKages Society:
Adult volunteers assist us in delivering our school-based programs, to help at our casinos or at other events like IG Day. We also need volunteers to help with administrative tasks at our office. If you'd like to volunteer with LINKages, contact us at 403-249-0853 or e-mail us.