McMaster University

McMaster University

Student researchers study community engagement in action

By Guylaine Spencer
Published: July 28, 2017



Students: Myma Okuda-Rayfuse (left) and Natalia Aksamit (right)


Their research project involving seniors and children gave these nursing students a chance to experience and learn about community engagement.


When people ask BScN students Myma Okuda-Rayfuse and Natalia Aksamit what they did on their summer vacation, they’ll have an interesting story to tell.


The two fourth-year students took a research course over the summer, which involved conducting an evaluation of a community project. On July 19, at McMaster University, they jointly presented their findings from their study to faculty members and community stakeholders.


Standing - Bill Lucken (Circle of Friends volunteer).

Sitting left to right - Laura Pizzacalla (Burlington Foundation), Suzanne Morrison-Dalgleish (Circle of Friends volunteer), Shirley Lucken, (Circle of Friends volunteer), Mae Radford (Circle of Friends volunteer).


The project, Circle of Friends Intergenerational Project: Celebrating Canada’s 150, involved seniors and schoolchildren getting together every Wednesday to enjoy meals, creative activities, reading, games and conversation, all around the theme of Canada 150.  It took place in the Burlington Baptist Church and was run by volunteers. This project grew out of Circle of Friends, which is an ongoing community program for seniors in Burlington. Circle of Friends is currently funded by Burlington Foundation and Community Foundations of Canada.


The students pointed out that as the population of Canada ages, more seniors are becoming isolated, and community programs like this one aim to give older Canadians the chance to socialize and make new friends. One of the unique features of this 5-week project was that it integrated three generations – school age children, university students, and seniors.


The nursing students interviewed the children and seniors and found that everyone rated the experience highly. They concluded that there is a real need for more programs for seniors and for more intergenerational contact as well, which benefits both seniors and children.


Okuda-Rayfuse and Aksamit also showed a short video they created about the community engagement project. The video will be posted online and the students will monitor the views for knowledge translation purposes. Here is the link to the video:


Video link:








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