PORT HAWKESBURY: Eight local groups found themselves a little richer following a sit-down with the representatives from the Strait Richmond Community Health Board last Thursday.
“This is my favourite day of the year,” said Lesa McHuhg, co-chair of the Strait Richmond Community Health Board. “We get to play Oprah and give away a portion of $17,000 to not-for-profits across the community.”
A Wellness Fund Announcement and Celebration was taking place at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre on January 23. As McHuhg indicated, the health board shelled out $17,000 to wellness fund applicants.
“Most are volunteer groups we donate to, and they do amazing work,” she said. “Volunteers go above and beyond, so any money we can get together is helpful.”
Mary Elizabeth Cameron, who also serves as co-chair of the board, said the best word to describe the day was “amazing.”
“We’re about promoting the social determinates of health, and it’s wonderful to see community groups come together, doing their own call to action and look at what the community needs are,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see our local groups come together to address these big issues.”
The groups were varied in their projects and overall aims, but representatives of all seemed happy to get a shot in the arm.
The Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services was greenlit for funding for a project entitled “Pop Up Period Parties.” The project looks to provide education and awareness to reduce period stigma and reduce period poverty. The project also focuses on the importance of sustainable period products, awareness of the products, and making the products available.
“Ecole Plus” CSAP’s grandparent/single parent support group was also funded. The program helps single parents and grandparents with issues that may arise for their children at school such as understanding report cards, having difficult conversations, and dealing with technology.
The Port Hawkesbury-Antigonish Swim Team receives funding to help grow its membership with athletes from diverse cultures to make the team more representative of the community. The club will also offer nutritious snacks to all swimmers.
The Potlotek Education Department’s “Year Long Round Dance” will be funded. The round dance is a First Nations social dance of inclusion and friendship. The greater purpose is to encourage community members to come out and socialize during the coldest months of the year.
The Richmond Education Centre and Academy’s “Guys Group” will promote healthy masculinity by having members prepare a meal for school staff. The meal will have the male students work on the meal from start to finish. The members will also wear designed t-shirts that promote healthy masculinity.
The YMCA Cape Breton – Port Hawkesbury will be offering a boxing conditioning fitness program and youth drop-in. The youth boxing conditioning fitness program is planned to be open between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a possibility for weekend classes as well. Classes for other age groups will be offered as well.
L’Arche Cape Breton’s “Ride the Wave” summer program will offer young people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities a program that emphasizes a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as good nutritional and personal hygiene practices. L’Arche also offers transportation to and from the program every day.
The Strait Area Education Recreation Centre will offer a mental wellness day to provide students with the opportunity to select areas of interest and attend one-hour workshops presented by professionals or community members. The day is intended for students to become aware of their own needs, resources, and school-based organizations that support mental wellbeing.
A number of representatives from the various groups were at the funding announcement, and all seemed very pleased with the promise of money.
“It’s a good way to make a community link with the guys group and the health board,” said Robert MacDonald, the man spearheading the RECA “Guys Group.” He said both his group and the health board share the aim of helping young men develop.
“We want to promote healthy masculinity and show guys what it really means to be a man and not the stereotypical things you might see in movies and things like that.”
Josie MacEachern, the development coordinator for L’Arche Cape Breton, noted her group will make good use of the money.
“The funding from the community health board makes a big difference in our project,” she said. “Our program makes sure that people are physically active everyday which leads to a better sense of well-being among the participants, and it provides respite care for parents who really need it.”