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Mercredi, 26 mars 2014

Age-friendly consultation coming up

By Rachel Garber

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Coming up just for Newport seniors - a community lunch and discussion about what they'd like to see happen for them. The consultation is the climax of Newport's new Age-Friendly Municipality (MADA) project. It comes after nine months of hard work.

Lyne Maisonneuve coordinated the project. She worked with a committee of seven: Marie-Paule Boutin, Christiane Côté, Anne-Marie Dubeau (municipal councillor), Guy Gagnon, Pierrette Quevillon, Johanne Therriault, and Germain Tourigny. The MADA Committee, they call themselves.

First they checked out the senior population in Newport, QC. Out of 740 people, about 265 are over age 55. They are distributed among four hamlets, Island Brook, Lawrence, Randboro, and Saint-Mathias-de-Bonneterre, and in the spaces between. About one-third of the people have English as a first language.

Then they created a short survey about seniors' needs and interests, and Maisonneuve interviewed 108 seniors in Newport. That's a full 41 per cent of the seniors. Among the respondents were 38 English speakers and 70 French speakers.

Maisonneuve mailed the survey results last week to all of Newport's seniors. The document contains a whole cartload of suggestions. The respondents want a variety of courses. Cultural outings. Community meals. Evenings of music. And 17 other activities.

Ten people asked for a local foot clinic. Fitness and walking head the list of 13 different physical activities. And various home care services. Public transportation. Housing and urban planning.

Along with the survey report, Maisonneuve sent the senior citizens a portrait of the Municipality and its population. And an invitation to a consultation.

 "We aim for at least 40 persons," Maisonneuve said, speaking in French. "For the discussion, we'll divide into small groups of eight to ten people. Each team will be asked to choose three priorities for the next three years. Both French and English will be heard. Newport is a bilingual municipality."

"We have a lot of suggestions," said Maisonneuve. "And the people who come may not be necessarily those who were interviewed. So maybe new suggestions will surface."

The discussion will finish with a plenary session, when participants will make the final choice of activities. The MADA committee will take their recommendations to the Newport Municipal Council.

The afternoon will end with a buffet catered by the Monique & Marie-Paule Restaurant in Island Brook.

 "I really want to thank people for having welcomed me so warmly, with open arms," said Maisonneuve. "The people I met showed me what ‘active living' really looks like. Now that we have a study that names impediments to autonomy, and suggests solutions, we can envisage concrete measures to improve seniors' quality of life."

The consultation is planned for Saturday, April 12, at the Newport Municipal Hall, 1452 Route 212, in Island Brook. It begins at 1 p.m., and will likely finish at about 4:30 p.m. To register, Newport senior citizens can call Lyne Maisonneuve at 819-889-1340 before April 5.

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