On June 6th, 2018, the Centre Wellington Community Foundation held its seventh annual Community Gathering held at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum and Archives. This event is a chance to updating the community on what CWCF has been up to in the past year, introduce our Project Grant recipients for 2018 and a great place for people to network with other community-minded individuals.
We had several firsts this year. To begin with, we renamed our “mini grants” program to “Project Grants.” We’ve come to realize there is nothing mini about what community groups projects accomplish with our grants. We also had the highest number of funds granting this year. This is exciting as we are a relatively young Community Foundation, and this shows positive progress and growth. This year’s grants were supported by Centre Wellington Youth Fund, Micklebring Fund, Kate and Margot Community Fund, Cedarcliff Fund, Kath Hammond Literacy Fund, The Community Fund, & Middlebrook Community Fund. We are pleased to be able to support a diverse and innovative cross-section of projects, highlighting our community at its best. Our descriptions are a bit different this year as well. We’ve included a short project description and have added a “background” section if you’d like to read more details about the project. We also include links where ever possible.
Every year we also want to highlight the work of a grant recipient or an important initiative in the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre Wellington received a Project Grant this year for their wonderful Camp URU program. We asked Kristen Drexler (BBBS Executive Director) to talk about a new initiative she is working on, a “youth community hub” which will benefit many in our community. The idea is to provide a space for youth to go to and bring several different organizations that focus on youth all under one roof.
So, without further delay, here are the 2018 Project Grant recipients.
CENTRE WELLINGTON YOUTH FUND:
(It supports a range of activities to develop youth in Centre Wellington. These activities include mentorship, social services, employment, education, physical fitness and other community activities targeting the holistic development of local young people.)
Funding for our 2nd annual Summer Camp which will keep youth through games and activities. And that will enable them to grow as responsible members of their families and citizens of their communities and to develop self-confidence and self-respect and an appreciation of their own worth as individuals.
Background: This is a day camp for girls and boys ages 9-12 and has been created by Big Brothers Big Sister of Centre Wellington based on the popular Go Girls and Game On programs. The focus is on building strong self-compassion and positive body image while maintaining healthy lifestyle choices through understanding mental health, mindfulness and emotions, creating a balanced life and constructive choices that are right for them as an individual.
- Keep kids engaged through games and Keep kids engaged through games and activities.
- To grow as responsible members of their families and citizens of their communities.
- To develop self-confidence and self-respect and an appreciation of their own worth as individuals.
(It encourages the creation and appreciation of the arts in the Township of Centre Wellington. Granting from this fund will focus on literary, performing, visual and culinary arts.)
Organization: Elora Community Theatre
Project: Shakespeare in the Park
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Arts & Culture
To entertain and perform quality theatre in Centre Wellington and to provide a creative and positive theatrical experience for participants and audience.
Background: We need to have two tents and canvas backdrops to provide much-needed space for our actors. We have become a part of the summer local and tourist experience in Elora.
Shakespeare in the Park was initiated in 2013 as a fundraiser for Elora Community Theatre doing what we love to do, performing! It has become a unique theatre experience to share Shakespeare on a yearly basis with the community outdoors. Our casts include adults and children. We have had people attending from the community and surrounding towns and cities. As admission is by donation, it is accessible to everyone. We are adding to the cultural diversity of the community by our annual presentation of a Shakespearean play.
Puppets Elora and the Wellington County Museum invite students and families, teachers, librarians to peek backstage and discover the exciting and surprising world of puppetry. January 19-March 31, 2019
Background: For our 25th year Puppets Elora was invited by the Wellington County Museum to exhibit puppets, props and stages in the main exhibition hall.
We want to share the joy and creativity that puppetry brings as performing art and inspire others to participate in this enduring cultural activity.
The goal is to create vibrant, interactive displays, including short educational videos. There will be live performances and programming for intergenerational families and educators. There will also be workshops introducing various aspects of puppet making and manipulation, set and prop design and performance.
Puppetry appeals to children and to everyone who has grown up with puppetry, both through live performances and on television. This will be the biggest and to our knowledge only puppetry exhibit currently in Ontario. We want to encourage others to try this very accessible art form.
Community need: Childhood educators are continuously seeking additional vehicles to teach children emotional awareness and empathy. The program is intended to provide teachers and librarians with a foundation for using puppetry as a means to explore and develop these life skills with young people.
Benefit: Wintertime local fun and informative family activity.
KATE AND MARGOT COMMUNITY FUND:
(Supporting a broad range of charitable activities in which financial grants from the Fund are leveraged by other support, including through significant volunteer commitment, to such charitable activities.)
Organization: Portage – Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Centre for Youth
Project: The Pink Monster Program
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Belonging & Leadership
Background: Young women today are subject to increasing pressure from aggressive marketing, the prevalence of social media, and the feminine ideals portrayed in the media. To deal with this pressure, many turn to drugs and other risky behavior.
Portage in Quebec recently implemented a series of workshops into its current drug addiction rehabilitation program. Portage Ontario has adopted this same successful initiative at our Centre in Elora. Known as “The Pink Monster,” these weekly sessions seek to make female residents at Portage more aware of the power of advertising and enable them to find their inner strength and make healthy choices. The sessions help to build our female residents’ own personal identity as most (90%) have been in a cycle of co-dependency with boyfriends, pimps and drug traffickers for so long.
Session topics focus on issues young women face today that can interplay with drug addiction problems topics like self-confidence and independence; friendship; love, sex and relationships; societal ideals; violence/bullying; beauty ideals; and, emotional health. Group activities accompany each workshop, hoping that insights gained make a lasting impression. Games like “four corner” or “hot seat” allow participants to take a stance and be heard, while “similarity & difference” or poetry writing help further develop subjects/themes using sensory stimulation and physical expression.
The 2015 Vital Signs report noted the lack of emergency shelters and drop-in centres, as well as safe hangouts for youth. Discussing relevant issues with other women in a safe, respectful and non-judgmental environment through The Pink Monster program, teaches female residents the importance of forming their own opinions and expressing them out loud. This, in turn, helps them to avoid risk-taking behaviors with regards to substance use, and step out of existing relationships and beyond the cycle of victimization and abuse that has shaped their lives.
(Provides funding to develop and maintain arts and culture in Centre Wellington. Grants may support operating and/or capital costs of organizations located or performing/showing in the Centre Wellington area.)
Organization: Elora Centre for the Arts
Project: Planet Youth
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Arts & Culture & Belonging & Leadership
Background: Planet Youth was originally the culminating event of the TUTU Textile program developed in 2007 by Stephanie Lines-Toohill, one of our ECFTA Arts Educators. It was designed as a way for the Tutu participants (ages 7 to 13) to model and talk about their original fashion designs.
This year, ECFTA Creative Director, Bear Epp, and ECFTA Curator, Micaela Campbell, have collaborated with the TUTU program to broaden the scope of Planet Youth. From a one-day fashion event with a little music, organizers have planned a 2 week showcase that will include: a Youth Culture Photography Exhibition; a Friday Night Planet Youth Live Music Teen event; two days of art workshops for 4 classes with indigenous artist, Nyle Johnston; and an exhibition of community art (created by a collaborative seniors and youth program) in the Harris Exchange Gallery. This festival of youth talent makes ECFTA a springboard for our children, a chance for them to share creativity and to find out more about one another. ECFTA believes that this is a vitally important opportunity for our youth, especially those who might find it difficult to find avenues for their creative energy. And, of course, any event featuring children and youth is a huge draw for their families and friends, a wonderful way to celebrate community!
KATH HAMMOND LITERACY FUND:
(It was established to celebrate the life and passions of Kathie Hammond. Grants from this fund are used to encourage and support children and learning.)
Background: According to research, literacy skills are one of the strongest indicators of a child’s future success in life. The percentage of the population that reads at an acceptable level is a great predictor of the success of a community in maintaining economic growth and an excellent quality of life. Our Letters, Sounds and Words program, which is the subject of this application, helps support this community goal by ensuring young children learn to read.
This program is designed for children ages 5-7 and English language learners up to age 9. It is delivered in schools across multiple regions in Southwestern Ontario, including 2 schools in Centre Wellington. Children are selected by their classroom teacher at the first sign of them lagging in their early literacy skills. These children are paired with trained community volunteers who come into the school to work one-on-one with them, playing carefully designed games and activities. Each volunteer receives four hours of training prior to working with a child for the first time. The games are organized in four strands that help children learn the names of letters, a sound each letter represents, how to recognize words by sight and how to build words using the sounds of its letters. The child will see 2-3 volunteers per week depending on the number of strands they are in, for a 10-week period. Each visit is 30 minutes long. The children’s knowledge is tested before and after the program, documenting gains in their early literacy skills.
As the child progresses through this program, their confidence and self-esteem grow. They see themselves as successful learners. The program also builds community by encouraging those who live and work in the community to be involved in supporting its children.
A grant from the Centre Wellington Community Foundation will be used to help ensure this program is available in Centre Wellington Catholic schools specifically. It costs us approximately $100 to put each child through our Letters, Sounds and Words program. Our request is for $1,000, which will help over 10 children learn to read. The gift will also help ensure caring community members are able to engage in a meaningful volunteer opportunity.
Our Letters, Sounds and Words program helps support the Vital Signs areas of reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and helping foster belonging and leadership in the community. Strong literacy skills are essential in supporting all areas of our life, from reading job applications to prescription labels.
MIDDLEBROOK COMMUNITY FUND:
(The aims to fund a broad spectrum of granting, primarily focused on the local Community. As future strategic granting initiatives emerge, the fund will aim to prioritize around such emerging needs.)
A community greenhouse will be operated by community members, and the near year-round produce will be distributed by the Food Bank.
Background: The Food Bank hopes to address the unmet needs of clients by offering fresh produce to clients on a nearly year-round basis, address food insecurity and social isolation. The Food Bank has collaborated with other organizations to establish and support 8 community gardens and a Community Garden Network. These gardens enable community gardeners, including food bank clients, to see themselves as connected and as contributing to a common goal – making healthy, fresh local food more available to those who need it. This benefits the community at large, builds relationships across socio-economic classes, builds community solidarity and helps get at the root of food insecurity and social isolation. After discussion with partners, we propose to purchase and open a greenhouse as part of the Garden Network. The greenhouse will be operated from early March to late November each year by about 12 food bank clients and other community volunteers supported by the Network. The produce will be distributed through the Food Bank so that users have greater access to fresh and healthy locally grown food grown by “us.” The yield will be distributed as fresh food and also as part of our new “Healthy Take-Out” program, where great food is cooked by volunteers in our community kitchen, and “take-out” portions are available to food bank clients.
The Food Bank collaborates with the Centre Wellington Social Justice Group on community gardening, and with that group, supports the Centre Wellington Community Garden Network. The Social Justice Group will manage volunteers and oversee the garden network operations. The Central Pentecostal Church in Elora has offered space on their property for the greenhouse.
(This is our core non-restricted fund which can grant to a broad range of worthy causes in our community. As such, this fund is a great choice for those wishing to fund the widest spectrum of community initiatives)
A fresh salad bar program will offer hungry children the opportunity to access healthy food needed to improve their focus and learn better in school.
Background: Food & Friends is a preventative program committed to improving the learning capacity, health and well-being of children and youth aged 4 through 19 years, through the provision of healthy food before or during school. Our program operates from September to June every school year. We intend to use the grant funds to start a healthy salad bar program at John Black Public School.
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetic Practice and Research, reports 98% of 3rd, and 4th graders surveyed failed to consume the 5 daily servings of vegetables and fruits recommended by Canada’s Food Guide. For some of these kids, they aren’t given the opportunity to access these healthy foods at home, which can greatly benefit their ability to focus and learn in school. By introducing a salad bar program, it will not only encourage children to try new foods and make healthy choices but will also educate them on the importance of eating a healthy diet to fuel their brains.
The salad bar will be open to all 352 students if they choose to partake, as our Food & Friends programs are always non-stigmatizing and universally accessible to all children and youth. We never turn away a hungry child.
Organization: Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington
Project: Backpacks & School Supply
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Gap between Rich & Poor
This program is designed to deliver age-appropriate backpacks filled with grade-appropriate school supplies into the hands of children and youth living in low-income families. Target: 300
Background: Education is one of the keys to escaping the cycle of poverty. By providing the supplies above, children arrive at school ready to learn and on a more equal footing with other students. The program also frees up some family income to be spent on other items required such as new clothing, shoes etc. We feel that students getting off to a good start have a better chance of success in the classroom and this will lead to better outcomes later in their lives.
Organization: Upper Grand District School & John Black Public School Parents Association
Project: Rock Band Training Camp
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Belonging and Leadership
Students from John Black Public School will benefit from the expertise of a local musician/music teacher, making music together and developing skills.
Background: Music brings people together, relieves stress, activates the brain and is just plain fun! We have grown our music program exponentially since we received a grant for our ukuleles, and we have expanded our repertoire to include Rock Band instruments.
What did this change do? This change has raised interest from some previously disengaged students, who are particularly interested in playing in a rock band, and this year they enjoyed the opportunity to play together every week, under the tutelage of Adrian Jones. He is an expert musician and teacher and understands all of the instruments that go into making a rock band sound.
Continuing funding to the beginning of next year will benefit those students who wish to play next year. The grade 7 students have had 4 months of working with him and their instruments. Next year, as grade 8 students, they will grow in their knowledge, help guide the incoming grade 7 students, and we will build capacity. Having Adrian support us in the first few months of the school year will help us to meet that goal.