The Exploration of UFV's Built Environment in Pursuit of an Age-Friendly Designation
Hi everyone, my name is Cody Berends. This project aims to have UFV receive the first age-friendly designation in BC and join the age-friendly university (AFU) global network of over 80 universities.
There is a list of guiding principles provides by the AFU initiative which includes appropriate programs, health and wellness initiatives, and proactive engagement to invite older adults to learn on campus and have them feel welcome. Another important aspect of age friendliness, and the aspect in which I have been focussing, is that of accessibility at UFV’s campuses with regard to the built environment, the infrastructure.
To take a look at this, I needed help. Specifically, I needed perspectives that were more relevant, and so I had several older adult volunteers who walked through each campus with me.
There were many aspects of the accessibility that I was aware of and had on hand in list form, but accessibility isn’t necessarily as simple as a checklist. With the help of these volunteers, we looked at campus from the perspective of those with hearing or visual impairments, in wheelchairs, and other challenges with mobility. Many of the volunteers worked or studied at UFV years ago, and the improvements and thoughtfulness in design, compared to when they were on campus, truly touched them.
We want older adults to feel welcome at this university, to be a part of our culture, to be academic peers. This can’t happen if the journey to a classroom is intimidating and stressful. This can’t happen if that journey is designed for just some of us. Although there is room for improvement, we are so proud of UFV’s Abbotsford and Chilliwack campuses for the strides taken and we are excited for UFV’s future.