Our Program

The GrandPals Program is a unique intergenerational initiative that connects generations through the power of storytelling.

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Our Program

The GrandPals Program is a unique intergenerational initiative that connects generations through the power of storytelling. It began in 2010 by Marc Mailhot, an award winning educator, alongside a small group of highly respected educators with a simple question: How might we provide our students with more applied, experiential avenues for character development? From there, the GrandPals Program was born. It continued to evolve and centred storytelling as the main focus and pedagogical approach. It took root in its hometown of Orangeville, Ontario and in 2021, Marc Mailhot partnered with the Centre for Studies in Aging and Heath (CSAH) at Providence Care to expand the program nationally.

The GrandPals Program is an intergenerational program that connects an elementary school class with a small team of GrandPals (adults over 55) to engage in weekly, open conversations providing a path for connection and learning through storytelling. Students, Host Teachers and GrandPals benefit through forming bonds, throughout the program, that build understanding, mutual respect and an increased sense of belonging.
GrandPals - Our Program - A group of grandpals around a table with students
The GrandPals stories expose students to diverse world views. It helps anchor generations and create a sense of belonging. The interactions inspire creativity and imagination that result in enriched learning and lasting pieces of work both students and GrandPals can be proud of.

Roles in the Program

We believe collaboration is at the core of creating a successful program. That’s why each community is directly involved in adapting the core program and implementing it to meet the specific needs of participants. There are six roles involved in implementing the program, including:
GrandPal

Gillian and Grandpal Jim creating a family trees

A volunteer (age 55+) trained as a GrandPal to meet with students and share their story.

Host Teacher

Host a Teacher

Enrich student learning by hosting GrandPals in their Gr. 5 classroom. The Host Teacher collaborates with the Community Champion, GrandPals, Program Coordinator and their students to create space for and guide meaningful interactions.

Program Coordinator

Someone within an affiliate organization who is tasked with the coordination of the program. This role supports recruitment of GrandPals, the overall coordination and logistics of the program. The Program Coordinator is actively involved in recruitment and supporting the participants.

Community Champion

Roles in the Program - Community Champion

A volunteer to recruit and mobilize GrandPals. A Community Champion takes the lead on recruiting and maintaining the involvement of GrandPals.

Students

Roles in the Program - Students

Early adolescents ages 11 – 14, typically in grade 5, in the same classroom or after school program.

GrandPals Staff

Roles in the Program - GrandPals National Team

A knowledgeable staff member at the National Program’s headquarters to support and coach communities on how to implement the program. They are responsible for providing one-on-one support, training, how-to-guides, implementation resources, evaluation tools and supporting a community of practice.

Roles in GrandPals – National Team & Affiliate Organization

Roles in GrandPals - National Team & Affiliate Organization

Click to enlarge.

Local Community Implementing Partners

Affiliate Organization

We collaborate with community-based organizations to establish and execute the Program at a local level. As the GrandPals Program is centrally managed by the Center for Studies in Aging and Health, interested organizations apply to become an Affiliate Organization. Upon acceptance, these organizations are provided with comprehensive training, coaching, and resources to successfully implement the program. In turn, they are responsible for carrying out the GrandPals Program locally by assigning someone to organize its implementation.

2023-2024 Affiliate Organizations

We are grateful to work with the following five organizations, over the next three years, to implement the GrandPals program:

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

Want to see a GrandPals Program in your community?

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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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