STAR Institute Visits 411 Seniors Centre Society

June 05, 2019

On June 5, the SFU STAR Institute visited 411 Seniors Centre Society in Vancouver. 411 Seniors Centre Society is an inclusive organization boasting over 40 years of “seniors helping seniors.” 411 Seniors has been dedicated to the well-being of people 55 years old or more (55+). They are at the forefront of advocating for this group in health, housing, income support programs such as Canada Pension and Old Age Security to name a few areas.

Since 2015, 411 has been temporarily located on the 7th floor of 333 Terminal Avenue. Plans are now actively underway for 411 to move to Cedar Cottage/Fraserview area, at Fraser and 19th Avenue - another vibrant Vancouver neighbourhood easily accessible by bus. The move is scheduled for 2020. Check out the ongoing programs including services and activities described on the 411 website

While 411 provides assistance with daily obstacles such as online forms and navigation of an ever growing digital world, they also provide a range of programming and creative activities such as yoga, painting classes and most recently a developing seniors podcast project.

The STAR Institute found 411 to be an extremely special and vibrant social meeting hub where people come to socialize and organize around issues important to older adults. STAR had the opportunity to sit in on one of the podcast meetings where we were introduced to the organizers of the project and a number of members at 411 who are both interviewer and interviewee. This technology collaboration began to synergize between 411 Seniors Centre and the Podcast radio station in a lower level of the building. The podcast project will provide podcasts on a range of topics from interviews with the Executive Director of 411, Leslie Remund, interviews with experts and academics in the areas of ageing, social and economic issues around aging, gerontology and technology, as well as storytelling sessions with senior members and poetry, meditation, to name a few.

Responses to the new 411 Seniors Centre podcast project from STAR Institute staff:

"This is fantastic - exactly the kind of thing we should be thinking about. The "serious" stuff is of course important, but we need to realize that later life is about having some fun and doing some new things as well. This kind of thinking is actually not easy - it needs a creative spark and some key people that is often missing."

- Andrew Sixsmith, Executive Director

"This is such a fantastic project - exactly the kind of thing that makes me love being involved in this kind of work. Along with the "serious" subject matter and conversations it is rewarding/of value to explore the playful aspects of life and later life which do not fail to impact positively. It is so cool to see communities embracing this new technology medium as a way of interacting and sharing ideas, experience, and alternative therapies. I really look forward to hearing more, being involved in some way, and listening in."

- Juliet Neun-Hornick, Special Projects Coordinator

STAR Institute Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, was interviewed during the visit. The podcast interview will be made available here in the near future.

The STAR Institute is also interested in new ways of collaborating with 411 Seniors Centre and has posed the idea of writing a podcast project case study - what the project is all about, how it has impacted 411 members and those listening in, how it can be used as a tool to overcome the digital divide. STAR is increasingly interested in how the academic world can more effectively mobilize knowledge and translate research to the outside world. STAR and 411 have discussed the possibility of working together to co-write lay summaries of research findings in a way that is translatable or digestible to those who would benefit from it the most.