Unique Kamloops project aims to bridge generation gap

Centre for Senior's Information Vounteers, Doris Brietzky and Norma Terrion (back turned)

KAMLOOPS – Cooking, baking, canning and preserving were once necessities of a bygone era, at risk of being lost in a generation of iPads and Instagram, but a growing organization in Kamloops is trying to ensure those skills and lessons can be passed on to a new generation.

The Centre for Seniors Information has been working on their concept of a community kitchen and thanks to some recent funding from the provincial government, that vision could soon be a reality.

Brenda Prevost, the centre’s director, hopes the kitchen will pass valuable skills down the line.

“We want to link the older generation to the younger generation in order to make sure the younger generation has knowledge,” Prevost says.

The goals of the senior’s centre are ambitious. Prevost says the kitchen will be accompanied by an event space that could potentially seat 175 to 200 guests. To become what the centre calls a “community hub,” they hope to start a job skills program that uses the kitchen. Young people, referred to the centre through Work B.C. or the Ministry of Health, can learn basic kitchen skills like dishwashing and food-prep to advanced information like event planning and catering.

The seniors would teach students canning and preserving, especially as it pertains to baby food, but their cooking wisdom in general.

“It’s that transfer of knowledge, we can’t say that often enough,” Prevost says.

It has the potential to benefit everyone, include other seniors. Many senior men don’t know how to cook, and many seniors in general live in poor health as they aren’t motivated to eat a healthy meal.

“All of (these programs) are bridging the gaps in so many ways; not only to the youth but from senior to senior, from education to senior,” Prevost says.

As the kitchen has yet to be built and the specifics of the funding are unknown, these ideas are just that – ideas. Prevost says the funding will dictate the programming.

What is known, is the centre has outgrown its small concession in Brock Shopping Centre, where a handful of volunteers sell premade food to seniors. There is no stove, only crock pots that routine blow breakers when too many are plugged in at a time.

Doris Brietzky and Norma Terrion have both volunteered at the centre for over three years. Not only are they excited about what the kitchen means for them as volunteers, but also for the potential programs it could offer.

“As a rule most (young people) don’t know anything about canning. I know my kids don’t,” Terrion says. They both hoped to learn themselves about preserving food. Brietzky says she is “interested to see how people do stuff.”

Terrion believes the seniors would really enjoy passing their knowledge on to young people because, as Brietzky says, many seniors at the centre just need the interaction.

“The odd time you’ll see one of them come in and they’re lost. You’ll sit down and talk to them and it makes their day,” she says.

As Prevost explains, bridging the generation gap and engaging seniors again is one of the main reasons for the community kitchen.

“Our society has become very separated from the senior population,” she says.

Creating a space where seniors can congregate, not just amongst themselves but with the community at large, is important. But to create a space where seniors feel useful and their skills are valued means even more.

“Bringing that support system back in the way of having a place to go to revisit the experience of canning again and sharing that knowledge that’s such a vital part of it,” Prevost says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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