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Bridging the gap

Inter-generational knowledge sharing in N.L.

By Cathy Newhook

The opportunity:

Linda Oldford with the Central Wellness Coalition knows that young people in her community are the key to keeping it vibrant and viable.

“For local heritage and culture, and healthy, active ways of living to be preserved, the engagement of youth is key,” said Ms. Oldford. “Both seniors and youth have valuable skills and know-how that they can exchange to enrich themselves and their towns.”

Ms. Oldford would like to find ways to bridge that generational gap and pass on the knowledge older generations carry with them. She knows that the exchange of knowledge and skills between seniors and youth is beneficial to communities. Stories, songs, skills and knowledge of the local landscape are passed down from older generations to enrich the lives of the young people in their families and communities.

“Finding a way to keep traditional culture and practices relevant to today’s youth is important to maintaining its value as an asset for the province.” — Linda  Oldford

Growing up in Burnside on the Eastport Peninsula, Ms. Oldford experienced a rural lifestyle and learned from her older family members where and when to pick berries, how to prepare fish and the history of her home community. Now, in order to stay connected to her children and grandchildren who live in Nova Scotia, she learned a whole new set of skills—from social media to video chat software.

“The learning curve for new technologies is steep,” she said. “People of my generation will have some difficulty in teaching themselves how to use Facebook, Twitter and Skype, whereas students today have used technology throughout their schooling.”

Ms. Oldford says many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are in a similar situation. A whole generation of people have had to seek out ways of maintaining their connections with family members who work and live outside of the province. For Ms. Oldford, the key is understanding how those technologies and advances in communication tools could be used to maintain the connection to place and to pass on the elements of Newfoundland and Labrador local knowledge, culture and heritage that make the province unique.

“Finding a way to keep traditional culture and practices relevant to today’s youth is important to maintaining its value as an asset for the province,” said Ms. Oldford.

The project:

The local partners in Central Newfoundland are interested in working with Memorial researchers in developing initiatives or curriculum that facilitates inter-generational exchange of knowledge. The partners wish to see initiatives or programming that allows seniors to share practical skills, knowledge of their community’s history and landscape, and traditional songs and stories, and youths to share their knowledge in the use of social media, communication applications, online banking and expense management, and safe usage of such tools.

Interested in learning more about this project? The Harris Centre’s knowledge mobilization co-ordinator would be happy to tell you more. Contact Colin Heffernan at (709) 864-6115 or at colin.heffernan@mun.ca.

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