WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. -- With a growing population of seniors and a shrinking base of young families, the West Vancouver school district and the population it serves has changed dramatically over the past few years -- but the policies and elected officials that guide it, for the most part, have not.
With just over a week left to go until West Vancouver votes, independent school board candidate and long-time West Vancouver resident Lynne Block is hoping to change that with a community-building program that brings together the old with the new.
“At this rate, we're going to have more seniors living in West Vancouver than local children enrolling in our schools. We can’t ignore this fact, and we certainly can’t ignore this key population in our community,” said Block, an award-winning educator who has lived in West Vancouver for over 50 years.
“True leaders bring communities together to address complex problems by bridging today with tomorrow; lived experience with what comes next – and I’m the only candidate in the race for school board running on a plan to bring an intergenerational learning program to West Vancouver classrooms if elected on October 20.”
Gaining popularity in U.S. counties where the aging population outnumbers young families, intergenerational learning programs use the assets of community members with different cognitive, social, and education backgrounds to build and strengthen the community they share. Successful case studies coming out of these programs have shown a measurable impact on self-confidence, independence, and relationship-building social skills for both participants involved.
Even though seniors make up the majority of community volunteers, Block, pointing to an increased focus on high tech, feels there is a growing disconnect in the classroom between West Vancouver’s next generation and its past. She believes that bringing senior volunteers into West Vancouver schools can enliven the learning experience by offering new and unique perspectives to traditional topics.
“We integrate the latest technology into our classrooms – but do we take the most advantage of those who can speak to our history, and where we come from as a community?” said Block. “We need to look to the future, but we mustn’t forget our past.”
Block points to the possibility of partnering with pre-existing organizations such as Keeping Connected, which was launched ten years ago by the West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre with the goal of reconnecting people in the community facing isolation. She believes that by engaging in similar partnerships with differing community groups, we can better support our teachers and our students, while also making West Vancouver’s seniors feel valued, which has a powerful impact on depression, physical health, and well-being.
“Seniors are a key part of our community – and our elected officials at every level need to do a better job of bringing them into the very programs they’ve paid into their whole lives.”
“If elected on October 20, I will leverage my experience and dedication to build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren – and I will ensure that West Vancouver’s seniors are equal participants in both building and reaping the benefits of that.”
Running as a first-time school board candidate, Block has over 30 years of diverse education experience, having worked as an elementary and secondary educator, lecturer, school district trainer, vice principal and department head.
She holds a B.A. in Education, M.A. in Education Administration, and is a recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
The general election takes place on October 20, 2018.