Ottawa West Community Support has been involved in the community since 1968 and provides assistance to hundreds of seniors in the Ottawa area. MASC artists frequently do workshops with the seniors who access their services. We asked Megan Wegner, a Community Support Outreach Coordinator, about the impact of these workshops.

The past three years have been especially hard on seniors, in particular those living alone. What has OWCS learned about the needs of seniors in our communities?

COVID has emphasized the importance of social programs and community support services to help seniors maintain both their mental and physical health.

COVID has been isolating for seniors and we seen a decline in people’s health as a result. Social events are critical to bring seniors out to break this isolation and stay in touch with the community. Social events such as dance, music, concert, drumming, community gardening or painting are key to engaging seniors in their community.

What do you appreciate about collaborating with MASC on community initiatives?
MASC artist Luciano Porto giving a workshop at OWCS

It is great working with MASC. We really enjoy the diversity of the workshops and the ongoing support of MASC staff, especially in terms of flexibility and offering to be present at the workshops. During the workshops, the joy I see on the seniors’ faces warms my heart.

Many of the seniors tell me how much they enjoy the workshops. Peggy said, “I enjoyed the drumming today, I got to try different instruments. The music is very healing and I will think about it all day.” Monique said, “I loved the event and wish we will have it again. It’s very inclusive.”

How have you seen community arts improve the lives of seniors?

It has offered a space to laugh, move, learn new skills, and meet your neighbours. It has given seniors a variety of programs to get back out into the community, interacting and socializing with one another.

How do you plan on continuing to engage your community through the arts in the future?

We will look continue to look for opportunities to work with MASC to offer new and exciting programs for our communities. Access to the arts is an important aspect of the programming OWCS offers its clients. We hope to be able to continue to offer a variety of different arts-based programs to engage and entertain our community.