By Darren Lum
Published March 20 2018
Getting an award from the provincial government is giving the Highlands much deserved recognition for its efforts to make the community a livable space for everyone.
The minister of senior affairs awarded Haliburton County with the 2018 Ontario Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award under Category 1. This award recognizes communities in Ontario that are working toward becoming age-friendly. It will also showcase promising practices across the province.
Health promoter for Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit Angela Andrews was happy to hear about this award.
She said the award is owed to the county and its seniors who have been part of the planning of initiatives.
“We’ve had seniors directly involved and they’re the ones making the decisions rather than coming from the municipality” she said.
Support for this she said comes from all four municipalities and the county through the Age-Friendly Master Plan which was a required aspect of the nomination criteria.
Now that Andrews has worked on aging-well efforts in the Highlands for the past 10 years as a health promoter this award has added personal significance. However she stresses the recognition is not just for her but for everyone involved.
“I was so thrilled because it’s the end of this chapter for me as I move into a new role. I’m just completely thrilled with how much the seniors have done for the community and I know without them we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we have done. I really think the seniors need to be applauded for all the work they’ve put in; all the volunteer hours they put into it” she said. “Really it’s for them. Identifying their needs and concerns and how we can address them.”
The award will be given at the inaugural Age Friendly Community Symposium on March 26 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto where Andrews plans on attending.
This event will also enable representatives such as Andrews an opportunity to meet with leading experts and other community representatives who will present their work and also participate in activities designed to support one another and spark new ideas. Andrews said an award like this could inspire other communities like ours to follow our lead.
County Warden Suzanne Partridge was thrilled about this news learning about the award on Friday morning.
“I think it’s amazing. It’s really exciting. The Age-Friendly Committee has been doing a lot of good work and it’s great that it’s being recognized by the province” she said.
Partridge adds this award is proof our Aging-Well Committee are “trailblazers.”
She hopes to attend the symposium but is uncertain of her availability.
Andrews said this award will raise the profile of Haliburton and the number of seniors who live here.
The master plan she said will align some of the services that can work toward age-friendly initiatives such as hearing lighting and safer sidewalks.
She said the reports (a needs assessment and the recently completed age-friendly master plan) are really big accomplishments but the handrails that were installed along the stairwells at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion stood out to her as a highlight.
The handrail implementation started from identifying the challenge and resolving it by working together to act.
“That’s what community development is all about” she said.
An email sent by the minister of seniors affairs said recipients of the award will have their community initiative showcased on the websites of both the provincial government (www.ontario.ca/seniors) and the Age-Friendly Communities Planning Outreach Initiative (www.agefriendlyontario.ca).
Andrews said winning this award is satisfying but it doesn’t mean the work is over.
“I still think there is a lot of work to be done so just because we won this award doesn’t mean things are finished. I think it is really just a starting point” she said.