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Discover the people who make up the GrandPals Program community.

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Intergenerational Advisory Group

We have a tremendous group of members that make up the Centre for Studies in Aging and Health’s (CSAH) Intergenerational Advisory Group for the GrandPals Program. To learn more about the members and the experience they are bringing to the conversation on intergenerational programming, check out their bios below.

View Our Intergenerational Advisory Group Members
Betty Good

Betty Good

Connie Newman

Connie Newman

David Proctor

David Proctor

Heather A. Thompson

Heather A. Thompson

James Aitchison

James Aitchison

Jessica Webb

Jessica Webb

Leslie McBeth

Leslie McBeth

Neil Orford

Neil Orford

Dr. Sandeep Raha

Dr. Sandeep Raha

Sandi Pelly

Sandi Pelly

Sandra Downey

Sandra Downey

Shari Hughson

Shari Hughson

Tracie Swim

Tracie Swim

Affiliate Organizations

We collaborate with community-based organizations to establish and execute the GrandPals Program at a local level.

We are grateful to work with the following organizations to offer the GrandPals Program locally:

Toronto, ON

Logo for Baycrest FNA

MatureMinds, CFS Counselling & Wellbeing

Simcoe County, ON

Logo for Mature Minds - Mental Health & Wellness for Older Adults

Regina Public Library

Regina, SK

Logo for Regina Public Library

Réseau intergénérationnel WIN | WIN Intergenerational Network

Montreal, QB

Réseau intergénérationnel WIN | WIN Intergenerational Network

Partners

The GrandPals Program is made possible thanks to the following generous support of both financial and implementing partners.

The People

The GrandPals Program wouldn’t exist without the dedication and enthusiasm from the people in communities implementing the Program.

In the 2022/2023 school year, the GrandPals Program will reach approximately:

GrandPals

Students

Community Champions

Teachers / Facilitators

Program Coordinators

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Our Vision

To create a world of deeper intergenerational learning, storytelling and friendship. We do this by working with select local organizations and their communities to implement the GrandPals Program in Canada.

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Betty Good

Rural LINK/School Program Coordinator

Betty is a 30+ year educator and has experienced local and international careers that have prepared her to work with both youth and seniors. She brings a passion for building capacity in students, seniors, and communities. Betty believes in the value and importance of having a friendship with someone from another generation; many of her friends are much younger than she is! She loves the close intergenerational relationships she shares with her five grandchildren.

Something she once heard: “If you want to stay young, hang out with young people. If you want to die young, try to keep up with them!”

Connie Newman

Executive Director, Manitoba Association of Senior Centres and Age Friendly Manitoba Initiative

Connie Newman is the Executive Director (lead consultant) for the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres – Age Friendly Manitoba Initiative (MASC – AFI). MASC is a member association currently with 64 member Centres throughout Manitoba. MASC – AF connects with 92 communities in Manitoba on the Age Friendly pathway
She is 73 years young, she holds an M Ed in Administration from the UofMB. She retired from education in 2004. She was a junior high teacher/principal for 34 years in St James Assiniboia School Division. She is a boomer – still independent with many connections in Manitoba, Canada and beyond. Her favorite pastime is her dog – Tobe, a companion, a friend.

She believes in active aging and all that it means – keeping one’s mind and body active helps her to assist those around her who may need information and support as we all age together. Giving to back, giving to others is important. We can all give in some form – it makes our Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada a much better place.

Philosophical quotes:

“It takes an entire community to care for each other.”

“Knowledge is your power – we continue to learn through our entire life.”

David Proctor

David Proctor knows first-hand the impact GrandPals can have on a community. He has been involved with GrandPals since 2014 and has supported the growth of the program in various capacities, from recruiting adults to participate, being a GrandPal and helping to pilot trainings. He is also heavily involved with community work through the Rotary Club and CryNot (a group dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking in the Caledon and Dufferin regions). 

David has more than 40 years of experience as a Chartered Professional Accountant and specializes in mergers, mentoring young entrepreneurs and teaching at the college level. David serves as a Director of the Centre Wellington Hydro Inc. Board and has served on other Boards including Grand Valley Energy Inc., Rotary Club of Orangeville and the Orangeville Curling Club. 

Heather A. Thompson

Director of Age-Friendly Initiatives, Community Development Halton

Heather Thompson is currently engaged as a speaker on the topics of age-friendly communities, aging well, and elder abuse. Heather serves as the Chair of the Halton Elder Abuse Prevention.

More recently, Heather Thompson held the position as the Director of Age-Friendly Initiatives with Community Development Halton, a nonprofit organization serving Halton region.

Within the World Health Organization’s framework of an Age-Friendly practice, Heather actively steered the activities and projects of the Burlington Age-Friendly Council and served as the Chair of the Halton Age-Friendly Network, Co-Chair of the Southern Ontario Age-Friendly Network and Co-chair of the Older Adult Isolation Action Table with Halton Region. For over four years, Heather served as a Board Director with the Ontario Association of Councils on Aging.

Heather completed graduate studies at Queen’s University, with a Master of Science degree in Aging and Health. Her work and volunteer experience have encompassed leadership roles in the non-profit sector in Quebec and Ontario, including youth justice, disabilities, mental health, community support services for older adults, palliative and hospice care.

Heather has been invited to speak on the topics of aging and age-friendly initiatives at local, provincial national and international conferences and events. In 2023, in honour of Heather’s contributions to improving the quality of life for older adults across Halton region, Community Development Halton established the Heather Thompson Volunteer Excellence Award. Administered by Volunteer Halton, this annual award celebrates the accomplishments of outstanding older adult volunteers in Halton Region.

Heather is a strong advocate for age-friendly, equitable and inclusive communities where all people can fully participate without barriers.

James Aitchison

CIO and National Consultant for IBM Canada, Digital Human Library

James Aitchison is a highly sought-after leadership and technology consultant. He currently seeks ways to make meaningful differences in the lives of others through innovation and support of change processes. James has transformed leadership practices in organizations across Canada. James has a daily question he seeks to answer – “What have I done today to make a difference in the life of a child?”

He currently has roles as the CIO for Digital Human Library and as a National Consultant for IBM Canada. 

James lives with his wife in Okotoks, AB and together they seek adventure and opportunities to give back.

Jessica Webb

Program Development Specialist for Safe and Caring Schools, Department of Education, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Jessica Webb is a Program Development Specialist with the Department of Education, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador focusing on Safe, Caring and Inclusive Schools. Jessica was previously a Program Itinerant for Safe and Inclusive Schools with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and also loved every minute of teaching science in junior high for 20 years. She has a passion for diversity, equity, inclusion and reconciliation work and allyship. In addition to undergraduate (B.Sc.(Hons.) – Queen’s; B.Ed – Lakehead) and graduate (M.Ed – Memorial) degrees, Jessica holds a Certificate in Restorative Justice (Simon Fraser) and strives to build capacity for a holistic understanding of restorative justice in education.

Leslie McBeth

Director of Special Projects, Future Design School

Les McBeth is an educator on a mission to help students solve the world’s big problems. With 15 years of experience at the intersection of design and education, Les worked in design and public policy in Switzerland and New York City before becoming a high school teacher in Toronto. Inspired by the power of design to engage young people in civic action, Leslie’s classroom was built around a place-based, project-based approach using design thinking as a framework for real world problem solving. 

Leslie is currently the Director of Special Projects at Future Design School, where she designs new products and programs that help educators and school leaders break down classroom walls and develop future-ready skills in students. She is known for delivering exceptional learning experiences to educators, speaking at events such as SXSWEdu, CUE National Conference, Apple Teacher Conferences and the Google Leaders Exchange. Les has been the Lead Design Facilitator for the Google Certified Innovator program worldwide since 2016.

Neil Orford

President and Co-Founder, Defining Moments Canada

Neil is a retired History Teacher, from Dufferin County, Ontario. A winner of both the Governor General’s and Ontario Premier’s Award for History Teaching, his Digital Historian Project© won the 2015 Government of Canada History Award. He has been featured on CBC’s “The National”, TVO’s “The Agenda”, and in numerous articles across Canada. He has written for major Canadian publications and is a regular presenter at Conferences and workshops. He has worked extensively with the Juno Beach Centre and has led a Summer Institute for History teachers in Normandy. Neil is the owner and president of Defining Moments Canada, Ltd.

Dr. Sandeep Raha

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University, Assistant Dean (Acting) for the Medical Sciences Graduate Program, Founder and current director of the McMaster Children and Youth University

Dr. Raha is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University, and the Assistant Dean (acting) for the Medical Sciences Graduate Program. Dr. Raha’s biomedical research focuses on understanding the role of chemical and environmental stresses during pregnancy and how they impact the development of the baby.

Dr. Raha is also the founder and current director of the McMaster Children and Youth University (MCYU), a community engagement initiative which strives to demonstrate that discovery and creativity can be powerful allies in breaking down the barriers between community youth and post-secondary educational institutions. This program and the research associated with it hopes to reimagine the classroom for elementary school education. Using the credo, Question Discover Create, the MCYU program centres the voices of young people through multidisciplinary inquiry-based learning activities. Our research activities are focused on understanding innovative approaches to life-long learning, in a broader learning environment, that will empower the voices of young people.

Sandi Pelly

Program Director, Seniors, Waltons Trust

Sandi Pelly is Program Director, Seniors for the Waltons Trust, a grant making organization supporting initiatives for seniors, early childhood education, and the environment across Canada. A leader in community engagement, partnership development and capacity building in the health and social service sectors, Sandi has strong roots in the funding world. Prior to her current role, she was director for the social service sector at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto where she collaborated with social service agencies who served a range of vulnerable populations to design innovative service delivery solutions, build volunteer-based programs, and develop new partnerships. From 2006-2009, Sandi was the Community Engagement lead for Central LHIN where she developed and implemented a provincial engagement strategy and provided insight to health planning and integration teams. Sandi has considerable governance experience working with, and as a member of, several community agency boards. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a certificate in Public Participation.

Sandra Downey

Professional Consultant on Aging, Inspired Aging

Sandra is a seasoned professional with a unique blend of corporate, not for profit and entrepreneurial experience. Over the past decade her focus has been on ways in which we can improve all aspects of the aging process using methods that complement traditional medicine. Her passion is exploring the benefits – to individuals and communities – of intergenerational initiatives.

Qualifications include being a member of a thought leadership panel on aging; corporate consultant on age related research and marketing projects; involvement in not-for-profit and local community groups in both Toronto and Niagara region; development and launch of an Intergenerational program at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto (Big Sister volunteer for over 20 years). Sandra is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has since achieved certification as a Natural Health Practitioner (CNHP), Reflexologist (CRHP) and Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).

Shari Hughson

Adjunct Lecturer and Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR), Queen’s University

Shari Hughson is an entrepreneur, social innovator, & extreme adventurer.  She started her first business in her 20s & won CIBC Entrepreneur of the Year before the age of 30.  She has owned 6 health companies & 8 e-commerce sites, and today is C.O.O. at Wayfound Mental Health Group & a faculty member at Queen’s University.  Shari won a National Honour from the First Nations Health Authority for a project that impacted the mental health of a remote community in 2013.  Shari won Canadian Top 50 Business & Entrepreneur female leaders of the year in 2021 by SME Canada. She is a travel & wilderness fanatic and has pushed her limits by living off the land with only the bare survival essentials for 7 years. (TEDx)  Shari is an engaging public speaker on topics of innovation, social enterprises impacting people and the planet, well-being, and courageous leadership.

Tracie Swim

Co-founder and co-chair, West-end Intergenerational Network (WIN)

Based in Montreal, Québec, Tracie Swim coordinates friendly volunteer visits and award-winning Intergenerational programming for Montreal West United Church’s Extra Miles senior visiting program. She is a founding member of WIN, the Réseau intergénérationnel WIN | WIN Intergenerational Network and current co-chair.

Prior to her work with Extra Miles Tracie had 20+years of client service focused project management experience working with and for multiple levels of stakeholders in private sector consulting and planning.

She is a client service professional skilled in Not-for-profit Organizations, Community development, Strategic planning, Project management, Program development, Event planning and management and Volunteer management.

She is active with various organizations including Extra Miles senior visiting program of the MW United Church as a Program Coordinator; Réseau intergénérationnel WIN | WIN Intergenerational Network, as a co-founder and co-chair; Intergénérations Québec, as a Community of Practice Committee member; engAGE: Concordia’s Centre for Research on Aging as an Advisory Board member community representative; Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) IMPULSION-Vieillissement (PI – Shannon Hebblethwaite) “Non-profit organizations and covid-19: Understanding, mapping and improving community care for seniors in Montreal” as a Practitioner – co-investigator; FRQS Intersectoral Living Lab (PI Janis Timm-Bottos) “Seniors engaged towards their Well-Being: Living Labs in Neighborhood Shopping Malls”, as a Practitioner – co-investigator; Jewish General Hospital Geriatric Psychiatric Hospital /Lady Davis Institute on the Patient Advisory Committee as a member Community representative; and, Town of Montreal-West’s Municipalités Amies des Aînés (MADA) Seniors Advisory Committee, as a member and formerly steering committee member.