Through Their Eyes is a hands-on community-based project dedicated to examining the age-friendliness of local St. Catharines communities in the Niagara Region. As an integral part of the Applied Health Sciences course “Developing Healthy Communities” at Brock University, students are assigned partners to conduct field research together over the duration of the term. In this project, student teams are partnered with older adults to examine the health of a particular neighbourhood using a healthy community model called “Age-friendly Cities” that examines age friendliness across 8 domains: public spaces; transportation; information and communication; housing; respect and social inclusion; social participation; civic participation and employment; health and social services. The overall goal of the project is to provide students with valuable practical experience while utilizing in-class learning about developing healthy communities.
Students are the primary data collectors for the project, assuming responsibility for conducting and reporting on the interviews with their senior counterparts. The students used “go along” interviews (a qualitative method that combines in-depth interviewing with participant observation) to work collaboratively as an “intergenerational team” to assess the age-friendliness of each neighbourhood. Thanks to the generous assistance and support from a number of participants at various senior residences, the students were able to compile an incredible amount of useful data for the Developing Healthy Communities class and affiliated project partners. The Brock University Research Ethics Board also played a key role in the structuring of the community-based project and provided ethical clearance approving its safety for all participants.