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Civic Impact

Reel Youth program invites youth to create documentaries about seniors' life stories

Canada Media nonprofit Reel Youth is now accepting applications for its newest Toronto initiative the Revera Age is More Film Program.

The Age is More Film Program challenges young documentarions to create a four- to seven-minute film about the life of senior woman living in Toronto.

The program, to be held over three consecutive weekends this September, is now accepting applications from interested young women ages 13-29 years old. Women of any skill level are eligible to apply and the program is free for all participants. 

The 10 selected participants will learn the basics of film-making and interviewing before being paired with a resident of Toronto's Forest Hill Place, a seniors home participating in the program. The filmmakers will be tasked with learning about the life of the seniors they've paired with, and will eventually explore the life of that senior through a short documentary film. 

The film program, offered by Reel Youth in partnership with senior accommodation firm Revera Living, was launched in Burlington in 2013. This September is the first time the program has been offered in Toronto and the first time it's been offered for women exclusively. 

"The program has always focused on building inter-generational relationships between the youth participants and seniors," says Leah Seltzer, a program facilitator at Reel Youth. "The intention this time is just to highlight women specifically and really focus on building inter-generational relationships between women."

Seltzer, who has helped facilitate the Age is More program in other cities, has seen first hand the large impact this short film intensive can have. 

"The youth participants often come with reservations. They think it's going to boring listening to seniors tell stories but it's really incredible because they soon discover that's not the case," says Seltzer. "We've really seen how young people's perception of older people changes and how their desire to connect with people of an older generation really grows."

This shift in attitude is especially poignant,  Selzer explains, given Canada's pervasive ageism. A recent Revera study claims that ageismis the most accepted form of discrimination in the country.  

But, says Selzer, it's not just the young people who gain from the program.

"It also changes perceptions from the other side too. It changes the ideas of some senior participants. Some of the participants don't often interact with young people...many were surprised at some of the capacity and maturity of the youth involved and are really glad to be able to share their stories."

Complete films will be featured on Reel Youth's YouTube page, on AgeIsMore.com and screened publicly in Toronto as part of the Reel Youth Film Festival

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Leah Seltzer, Program Facilitator & Editor, Reel Youth
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