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SMALL GROUP, BIG RESULTS

- Fenelon Falls Group Seeks Help to Make Community a More ‘Age-Friendly’ Place That Supports Healthy Living for All -

(FENELON FALLS) – Call it a ‘benchmark’ to show how far some Fenelon Falls residents have gone to turn their village into a more age-friendly place to call home.

About a dozen members of the Fenelon Falls Age-Friendly Committee have been volunteering over the past three years to promote and improve services and supports for healthy aging. Some of the most visible examples of their work are the addition of ‘age-friendly’ benches around the community, as well as more disabled parking spaces in the downtown core.

“In this area, we have one of the highest percentages of retirees in Ontario, so an age-friendly initiative makes sense,” says Lynda Palmer, a retired nurse and member of the Fenelon Falls Age-Friendly committee. “Not all of these things are just for older people. Age-friendly initiatives cross all ages and benefit everyone, including families, children and persons with disabilities.”

As Palmer and other Fenelon Falls committee members highlight the benefits of making Fenelon, and the entire City of Kawartha Lakes, a more age-friendly community, they are also encouraging others to join the effort. “It is very satisfying to get involved and see results come out of what you are working on,” Palmer says.

An age-friendly committee in Fenelon Falls and another in Omemee were formed to address the needs identified in an Age-Friendly City of Kawartha Lakes Report completed in 2011. Led by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and based on public input, the Age-Friendly Report provided ideas on how to create a more age-friendly Kawartha Lakes in eight key areas, including transportation, health services/community support, housing and social participation.

“Fenelon Falls was one of the locations where action committees were formed to raise awareness of issues identified in the Age-Friendly Report,” says Doreen Boville, a Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The goal of these committees was to hit on issues that might not be obvious, but which could affect older adults. I think what the Fenelon Falls Age-Friendly committee has been able to do is impressive and has been a positive for the community.”

According to Palmer, the age-friendly committee’s approach to doing business has made all the difference. “We try to raise awareness on issues, network with other like-minded organizations, ask elected officials for change, and work towards finding and supporting solutions that benefit Fenelon Falls,” Palmer says.

Access to health care and transportation are two issues where the age-friendly committee has been able to make headway. Around the time she joined the age-friendly initiative, Palmer notes the “crisis” Fenelon Falls was going through having lost three doctors.

“Access to health care was a huge issue,” she recalls. “Our committee made connections with other groups, held a forum on local health that drew a great turnout, and we started to work on ways to improve the situation.”

When it came to transportation, Palmer notes the committee was among those that successfully promoted the extension of transit service to rural areas of Kawartha Lakes like Fenelon Falls. The age-friendly committee also organized a “tour” on the rural transit service to help Fenelon residents get accustomed to using it, Palmer adds.

To get involved with an age-friendly committee or find out more about the age-friendly initiative, call the Health Unit at (705) 324-3569, ext. 2323, or visit the Age-Friendly Committees section of the Health Unit website.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Doreen Boville, Health Promoter, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, ext. 2323.

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