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The EcoCAR of tomorrow with the generations of yesterday

Written by: Kyle Wyndham-West

McMaster EcoCAR is on a mission to extend its impact beyond the campus borders, actively engaging with surrounding communities to provide valuable resources about new technologies and the benefits of EVs for older adults. A meticulous analysis conducted by the Equity in Mobility (EiM) subteam, revealed that engaging with the aging and older adult population, 65 years+, would be the most impactful avenue for our community outreach initiatives as the 65 y/o+ community is growing in Hamilton and the Greater Hamilton Area.

Fortunately, McMaster University boasts a stellar reputation as a research powerhouse, particularly in aging studies.  Fueled by this wealth of expertise, the team chargeds ahead with a determination to make a difference.

Teaming up with the distinguished Dr. Brenda Vrkljian, a professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster and a leading researcher clinically trained as an Occupational Therapist, McMaster EcoCAR has found a powerful ally. Brenda is at the forefront of investigations involving older adults, specifically focusing on leveraging technology to support healthy aging and mobility among older Canadians.

This commitment is exemplified in her most recent work leading the ROADSkills Study, which explores the complexities of driving and the impact of technology on older drivers’ mobility and well-being. This collaboration aligns seamlessly with the McMaster EcoCAR mission, as the partnership extends beyond the academic realm and delves into the local community. Here, the team can shed light on the intricacies of electric vehicles (EVs) and advocate for the broader benefits of electrifying transportation.

Dr. Brenda Vrkljian expressed her enthusiasm for the partnership, stating, “As a researcher interested in ways to support healthy aging, I am excited to partner with the EcoCAR team on an educational initiative. It aims to increase awareness of how physical features in our environments and our attitudes can impact the everyday mobility of individuals from different age groups and backgrounds. By bringing older adults and EcoCAR students together, we expect this initiative to catalyze new ideas that inform and transform the transportation of tomorrow.”

The inaugural meeting saw the McMaster EcoCAR team extending a warm welcome to Dr. Brenda Vrkjlian and Wayne Poole, an older community member and ROADSkills study participant. Wayne, was captivated by the technological marvels of the Cadillac LYRIQ, and expressed eagerness to delve deeper into the realm of EVs.

This initial encounter set the stage for a series of planned events designed to engage and interact with the older adult and aging communities surrounding McMaster University. With two larger-scale events in the pipeline, focusing on learning and reaching broader audiences, the team is brimming with excitement about the potential evolution of this partnership with the community stakeholder group over the next three years of the competition. McMaster EcoCAR’s commitment to fostering awareness and driving positive change is poised to leave a lasting impact on the communities it serves.

Stay tuned to our social media pages for upcoming announcements about the events and video features accompanying this initiative.