| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed


Beyond 150 Collaboration for Change: Sarah Bleiwas

In preparation for Canada's sesquicentennial in 2017, YongeStreet partnered with Deloitte and business and community leaders to identify the greatest societal challenges facing Canadians today and in the future. Within the resulting special feature, Beyond 150: Collaborating for change, we invited graduate students from across Canada to propose creative ideas and solutions related to economic transformation and the inclusion of new Canadians; optimism and democratic engagement; and the social and economic advancement of our Aboriginal communities.
Four finalists were chosen from the collection of proposal submissions to present their ideas to a jury composed of industry experts. The student with the winning proposal receives an invitation to the Deloitte National Leadership Convention in July.
This is the second feature in a four part series highlighting the Beyond 150 finalists, their innovative proposals, and some of their best ideas on how to make Canada a happier, more prosperous and inclusive place. Read the first feature here. This month’s finalist is Sarah Bleiwas and her project Amma.

Beyond 150 Finalist Sarah Bleiwas chose to address Our Sense of Optimism and Social Engagement by proposing a solution to overcome the intergenerational divide.

Sarah Bleiwas found inspiration in thinking about Canada’s ageing population for her Amma project, summed up well in its opening paragraph: “Canada is aging. The population growth rate for Canadians over 65 is 3.5%, compared to the national average of 0.9%. By 2036 it is estimated that seniors will account for a quarter of Canada’s population. The changes associated with an aging population are varied. Underlying these changes is how the young perceive the old, and how the old perceive the young. Wide gaps exist between the worlds that the young and old occupy operate, termed by sociologists as ‘institutional age segregation’. This is a collective loss, as intergenerational understanding has much to offer all Canadians. In fact, it is when different generations, skills, cultures and ideas come together that innovation arises. While we are accustomed to syncing technologies, Amma proposes to leverage technology to sync generations.”
Bleiwas, who is currently working on her Masters of Global Affairs at U of T found herself studying in Washington DC a while ago, along with thousands of students like her, and looking into short-term housing. Bleiwas ended up renting a room from an older couple who came to play an important role as mentors. Bleiwas is convinced that experience could be scaled and replicated on a platform similar to Airbnb that would connect people across generational divides and provide a steady supply of affordable housing. “Increasing the opportunities for intergenerational interaction would be great for everyone. Our society is so segregated by age, and it’s rare for younger people to interact with older folks in substantial ways, “ Bleiwas told YongeStreet. “Multigenerational relationship building and access to affordable housing is really important for everybody. I lived in Ghana and Philippines, and there’s more integration and people interacting cross lifespans, and I feel it’s missing here. I love Toronto, but I notice how in Trinity Bellwoods park, everyone tends to be between the age of 20 and 30, and given all the challenges we face, as a city and as a country, I just think older people often have so much to contribute.”

Bleiwas submitted a proposal in response to Beyond 150 challenge by Deloitte, capturing imaginations and landing a spot as one of the finalists of Beyond 150 Collaboration for Change -- a hopeful sign that creative thinking like hers might just play a role in solving some of the biggest problems in Canada today.
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts