Technology allows Candian Seniors to meet French kids
by Jennifer Campbell
Ottawa site audience, Centre d'accueil Champlain
Puppet Show, from the Centre Therapeutique
de Margency Hospital near Paris, FranceOttawa site audience, Centre
d'accueil Champlain as seen by Ottawa audience via Video Conference
With the help of sophisticated video-conferencing
equipment, young and old alike were linked up to spend a few hours
together on Christmas Eve. Usually limited to board rooms and
high-tech conferences, there is little known about how this technology
can facilitate social interactions. To find out, employees and
volunteers of PACE 2000 International Foundation, a group that
promotes independence in seniors, and residents, employees and
volunteers of Vanier senior's home Centre d'accueil Champlain,
worked with counterparts at the Centre Thérapeutique de
Margency, a hospital for sick children in France, to test the
technology's ability to unite two generations of people
who can't go home for Christmas.
For its part, the French hospital presented
a puppet show by puppeteer Alissa Ouechni, who just so happens
to be the daughter of Ottawa event organizer and president of
PACE 2000, Dr.Marie Madeleine Bernard. In Ottawa, the shared entertainment
consisted of the Mostly Bows fiddle orchestra and folk dancing.
In addition to the entertainment, seniors
and sick children were able to talk through the screen, each being
able to see what the other was doing. Dr. Bernard said many of
the sick children have grown up in the French hospital and they
get very nervous when they leave it. "With video-conferencing,
this brings the world to them," she said.
When videographers got one particular little
boy, still hooked up to an IV, on the screen, he started waving
frantically- his smile bubbling over to all the seniors in the
Ottawa residence. One seniors, Jeanne Hedge, who has lived in
the home for eight years, said she was so excited her heart was
"I'm so happy, I'm filled with joy inside,"
she said, adding that if PACE 2000 organizes another event, they
can count on her being there. Rodolphe Bordeleau, 81, who lives
at the home, said he looks forward to linking up with other area
nursing homes and talking to other area seniors. In short, he
wants to use avant-garde technology to talk to others about the
good old days.
Dominique Jouishomme, who brought her young
son and daughter, came simply to feel closer to France, the native
land she left when she moved to Canada eight years ago. Her son
brought home an annoucement of the event from his school. "It's
a nice project," she said.
Dr Bernard said she was pleased whit the event."The
technology is not perfect, but it's good to prepare the market
and see what potential there is."