uwcore logo

IRIS: Increasing Recreation Involving Seniors

program image

Program Introduction

IRIS: Increasing Recreation Involving Seniors, a program of Castlegar CRN, part of the BCCRN. Supporting local seniors by creating inclusive and diverse opportunities for recreation and socialization, on a consistent basis, based on participants wants and needs, while challenging barriers to participation & striving for intergenerational connectedness. IRIS provides a safe, inclusive space/environment for multiple free events each month for seniors 60+ in the Castlegar area. Monthly events include Lunch, Coffee, Lunch & Learn, Cook & Share, Ladies Tea and Mens Group. Other events include weekly chair yoga and others such as music, holiday celebrations, or journal writing, as determined by participants. IRIS participants benefit from improved socialization, connectedness & health. Food is provided at all events. IRIS participants & volunteers are very diverse. IRIS wants to connect with seniors of all diversities – age, ability, culture, income, connectedness, etc. The diversity makes IRIS special – participants say they love that when they come in the door, everyone is the same: equal, welcomed and welcoming. IRIS began of a vision to create a support system for seniors, utilizing seniors input, focusing on prevention, and requiring less funding than direct advocacy. To creating a safe space for senior directed programming, while addressing barriers such as cost – all events are free. It started in July 2017 with 6 seniors for coffee. A goal of improving seniors lives, wellness, and connectedness to each other and the community at large. A community where seniors are respected and free of abuse. SUPPORTS – Kathleen and Brad Zubick that own Castlegar & Trail McDonald’s have been a blessing since day 1. They are very supportive with often in-kind food items and other times provide items at their cost. Both in person events and through COVID, they’ve been a huge supported of IRIS. Funding for IRIS has all come from donations and grant writing. The participants donate about $4000 per year towards programming. All events are free but if the donation jar is not put out, the seniors let the crew know right away!


The participants and Crew continuously converse to ensure the program is what the seniors want and need. The volunteer drivers always came back with numerous thank you cards and notes expressing gratitude for the program, the lunch and the Crew for keeping them connected, with food, and not feeling so isolated. The connections between the seniors and the Selkirk Students, the elementary school students and the IRIS Crew were reportedly well-received and appreciated by all parties involved. Many of the Nursing Students said those weekly conversations with their IRIS senior in the Two’s Company project really helped them to cope with the isolation through COVID. They expected to help seniors, not really benefit themselves. The IRIS / Selkirk College partnership provides an ongoing opportunity for our future nurses and social workers to see things from the community seniors” perspective. To learn about programs and services working preventatively on supporting seniors, to learn to recognize and respond to elder abuse. Many students only experience the institutional support settings for seniors and they often refer to seniors as patients or residents – missing the boat on a completely independent, brilliant and full-of-stories group of older adults, IN the community. Through COVID we continued the education and connections by zoom and phone calls. Many casual and research projects were completed including one entitled “Health and Wellness Needs of Seniors’ During a Pandemic and Beyond.”  This research was one of the presentations of “The Place of Philanthropy in Community Mental Health” conference in June 2021. (Kim Rawkins, Selkirk Instructor led the project and created a word and powerpoint of the research.)


The passion and compassion within the IRIS program is key to it’s success. The ownership, pride and input of the participants ensure the program is what the seniors want it to be. Selkirk College instructors and students have been a key part of IRIS, offering not only intergenerational connections but also wellness checks, games day, and cross cultural interactions. We held a flu clinic where Pharmasave and the nursing students covered shots and blood pressure checks. The International Gerontology Nursing Students came to IRIS and lead laugh yoga. There is a video on the Kootenay IRIS fb page. They also hosted a games day where the students and seniors taught each other games. The IRIS Crew is made up of mostly seniors. Several social workers, banking manager, educators, and a retired Designated Agency/Health Authority rep.  The heart and dedication of this crew is bar none. Volunteers range in age from 9 through senior. The daycare that resides in the same building also comes to IRIS with 3&4 year old that sing for the seniors.
  • Location

    British Columbia

  • Organization


Sign up for the Healthy Aging CORE Canada e-news to keep up-to-date with activity from the platform and the Community-Based Seniors Services (CBSS) sector across the country.
Learn More
First Name
Last Name