We are thrilled to share the first senior volunteering action of this plantation season that took place on December 9th in the lush surroundings of Mata de Vilar (native forest in the municipality of Lousada). This inspiring initiative was made possible through the collaboration of senior environmental volunteers and the pupils from the kindergarten of Social Center of Lustosa under the Forest School. Thus, the intergenerational plantation counted 8 seniors and 21 pupils to plant more than 30 native trees.
The event, organized with the aim of fostering a stronger connection between generations and promoting environmental stewardship, brought together individuals of varying ages and backgrounds. The Mata de Vilar, a picturesque location, served as the perfect setting for this community-driven effort.
The senior environmental volunteers, with their wealth of experience and passion for conservation, partnered with the enthusiastic students from the Forest School of Lustosa. Together, they embarked on a mission to plant trees that will not only enhance the natural beauty of the area but also contribute to the overall well-being of our planet.
As shovels dug into the soil and hands worked in unison, a sense of camaraderie filled the air. The exchange of knowledge between the seasoned volunteers and the eager young minds was palpable, creating a dynamic learning environment for everyone involved. Beyond the act of planting trees, this event served as a platform for sharing stories, experiences, and a mutual commitment to preserving our environment for future generations.
The success of this intergenerational planting event is a testament to the power of collaboration and the positive impact that community-driven initiatives can have. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the senior environmental volunteers and the Forest School of Lustosa for their dedication to creating a sustainable and interconnected community.
Stay tuned for more updates on our environmental initiatives and thank you for being a part of this meaningful journey towards a greener, more sustainable future.
In January 2024, the Municipality of Lousada, Portugal, will host a groundbreaking initiative: the Senior Exchange program, part of the Grey4Green project. The event will last 4 days and will represent a testament to the active involvement of seniors in environmental and societal contributions.
Eighteen senior citizens from Denmark, Portugal, and Iceland will participate on this enriching journey. The program is meticulously designed to cater to their interests and abilities, focusing on environmental conservation, civic participation, and active ageing. The seniors will engage in a range of activities – from litter gathering and tree planting to wildlife habitat restoration, while the program foresees both theoretical and practical approaches on environmental volunteering action. These hands-on experiences aim not only to instill a sense of environmental stewardship but also to reinforce their connection with nature.
An integral part of this exchange will be cultural immersion. The participants will explore Lousada’s rich cultural heritage, indulge in local cuisine, and participate in the town’s community. These activities are not just leisure pursuits; they serve as a platform for seniors to learn about different cultures, forge new friendships, and break the barriers of language and geography.
Accompanying each group will be dedicated staff members, ensuring that the needs of all participants are met, and their experience is smooth and fulfilling. This aspect of the program highlights the commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that seniors, regardless of their mobility or language proficiency, can fully engage in the activities.
The Senior Exchange offers a platform where seniors can showcase their capabilities, learn new skills, and contribute meaningfully to the community. As they return to their home countries, they will carry with them not just memories, but new perspectives and a rejuvenated spirit to remain active and involved citizens.
The first Senior Exchange in Lousada will represent a shining example of Grey4Green’s commitment to empowering senior citizens, fostering a sense of belonging, and promoting environmental consciousness. This event aims to leave an indelible mark on the participants and the community, proving that age is just a number when it comes to making a positive impact on the world.
Over the past weeks and months, more and more initiatives and interests in the field of nature conservation and climate change have arisen in Iceland. The Icelandic government has decided to make the work of seniors on climate issues a special focus project during Iceland’s chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2023. The title of the project is “Seniors and Climate Issues – For the Benefit of Both” which refers on the one hand to the great human resource and the extensive knowledge that resides in healthy people of retirement age, and on the other hand to the positive input these people can contribute to the climate debate – for the benefit of future generations.
The project’s objective is to involve more older people in climate issues by creating a Nordic platform for the exchange of ideas, networking, inspiration, and inspiring role models, while promoting the permanent physical and mental health of the participants.
Many Icelandic seniors have participated in the seminar of the Nordic Council that was held in Reykjavík at the end of September 2023. This resulted in the creation of a group of seniors called “Eldri aðgerðarsinna”, which could be translated by “Senior activists”, who started to meet in October 2023. Their aim is to put pressure on the government to take actions to fight against climate change and commit to Iceland’s greenhouse gasses reduction goals. This group is similar to already existing senior activists’ groups from Norway, Denmark or Sweden.
Several Icelandic organizations have been dedicated to addressing environmental issues for numerous years, including:
The initiative from the Icelandic government perfectly aligns with the Grey4Green project, sending a compelling message to seniors to actively participate in nature conservation and climate change projects, Grey4green being of course disseminated through all these seniors’ groups.
Learn more about the Nordic Working Paper: https://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1780690/FULLTEXT01.pdf
The NGO community in Denmark is working to make the buzzword “green sustainable habits” into an everyday habit of all citizens. FO-Aarhus is among these organizations working towards making sustainability not just a buzzword but a practice for all citizens in Aarhus.
On 26 October 2023, FO-Aarhus held a seminar for adult education teachers and NGO personnel working on climate issues on the Green Step method of how to get everyone on board the green sustainable habits. In this event, FO-Aarhus presented a curriculum and a handbook for trainers. Professor Sanne Østergaard Nielsen from the Aarhus Business College was the guest speaker, and contextualized the efforts in promoting sustainability – at a local, national and global level – among our citizens and related it with the UN Sustainable Goals.
Professor Østergaard-Nielsen presented the context of why we should act now to ensure our planet’s existence. She presented both the civic and business perspectives: why it is important for businesses to think green/sustainable, if it is to survive. The lecture proved highly successful, and the participants thought that the lecture was relevant and were very much engaged in the discussion.
An invitation was sent to more than 200 individuals and organizations that have a strong interest in sustainability strategies and adult education. A total number of 25 individuals participated in the event composed of NGOs working on environment issues, volunteers for the environment, adult educators, trainers, and private citizens. The invitation was open to all citizens of Aarhus who are interested in climate change and sustainability and how they can influence others to make green choices in their everyday lives.
Finally, after enjoying some refreshments, attendees had the opportunity to engage in networking and pose additional questions to Professor Østergaard-Nielsen.
On 5 of December each year, the world comes together to honor the spirit of selflessness and community that defines International Volunteer Day. This global observance is a testament to the profound impact that volunteers make in transforming societies and improving lives.
The inception of International Volunteer Day dates back to 1985 when the United Nations General Assembly designated 5 December as a day to recognize and applaud the contributions of volunteers worldwide. It serves as an occasion to express gratitude to those individuals who dedicate their time, skills, and energy to address pressing social issues.
In a world that often seems to move at an accelerated pace, volunteers stand out as the unsung heroes, embodying the true essence of altruism. They contribute to various causes, from environmental conservation to healthcare, education, and community development.
Volunteering holds significant importance for seniors, offering a multitude of advantages that contribute to their well-being and overall quality of life. Seniors often face unique challenges, from social isolation to healthcare needs. Engaging in volunteer activities becomes a priceless opportunity for them, as it allows seniors to stay connected to society, form social bonds, and overcome adverse events in life.
Quality ageing is closely tied to social participation, and volunteering activities can play a positive crucial role. A noteworthy article published in the International Journal of Community Well-Being (accessible here) emphasizes the positive impact of volunteerism, especially for seniors. The article delves into the various dimensions of volunteer work that contribute to the well-being of older adults, as volunteering bridges the gap between generations, fostering a sense of belonging and community.
Through innovative approaches like volunteering, training courses, and intercultural exchanges, the Grey4Green project aims to eliminate the social exclusion experienced by the elderly while simultaneously contributing to the fight for sustainability and climate change.
As we reflect on the International Volunteer Day celebrations, it is imperative to recognize the powerful force for good that volunteers, including those involved in the Grey4Green project, represent. Our efforts not only enhance the quality of life for seniors but also contribute to a more sustainable and interconnected world. International Volunteer Day serves as a reminder that, indeed, small actions can lead to monumental change, and the heart of service beats strong around the globe.
The second Training Course on Active Ageing and Nature Conservation of the Grey4Green project took place from 26 to 29 September 2023, in Strasbourg, France. Dedicated and enthusiastic personnel working with senior citizens, active ageing and volunteering programs were warmly received at the Maison des Associations premises to attend the second Learning, Teaching and Training Activity of the project.
Successfully delivered by Associação BioLiving and Município de Lousada, the goal of this training course was to empower the participants to discover opportunities for senior volunteers. It was an enriching experience for all participants, bringing together people from different countries, ages and backgrounds.
In line with the first Grey4Green Training Course, the agenda covered the following crucial aspects:
These topics were not just discussed but explored through engaging group activities, fostering better understanding among participants and sharing their unique stories. The collective experiences added depth to the group dynamic, and we are optimistic that some of the innovative ideas presented during these four days will soon become reality.
The agenda also included a half-day of outdoor activity, where the participants had the chance to get to know the Botanical Garden of the Strasbourg University (Jardin Botanique de l’Université de Strasbourg), creating a meaningful connection with nature.
A special note of gratitude goes to Associação BioLiving and Município de Lousada for delivering such an interesting and impactful experience, to ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy for hosting our second and last Grey4Green’s training course, and to all participants. Together, we are making strides in promoting active ageing, fostering a love for nature, and encouraging seniors to play a vital role in conservation and volunteering initiatives.