Since its inception in 2013, the CAS Endowment has provided approximately $450,000 in funding to many community based organizations. This was made possible by the generous gift received by the Children’s Aid Society of Pictou County. We are pleased to have provided support to the following initiatives to improve health outcomes for children and youth in our community:
Autism Pictou County Swimming Program: The Autism Swimming Program creates a safe, sensory friendly, environment for person with autism and/or developmental conditions to participate in one on one swim lessons to prevent drowning, to teach water safety and to allow each participant to grow as a swimmer as per abilities.
Highland Community Residential Services Saturday Respite Program: The Saturday Respite Program offers families five hours of Saturday respite per month. But more than a break for parents, these programs offer enriched experiences for participants with demonstrated outcomes. Extended respite programs provide an opportunity for children to create sustainable social networks outside of the educational environment. The environment at these respite events facilitates friendship and fosters acceptance and inclusivity, all important dimensions of healthy child development.
Roots for Youth Riding for Wellness: This program is intended to improve the mental and physical wellness of the youth in the Roots House Emergency Shelter and/or the Transition House by providing Horse Riding Lessons over the course of a year. Horse back riding has proven physical and mental health benefits which include: cardiovascular exercise, improvements in one’s balance and coordination, lowering blood pressure, improvements to muscle tone and flexibility, helping with self confidence and releasing the hormone serotonin, which is generally associated with feelings of happiness.
YMCA of Pictou County Active Together – Child Physical Activity & Fun Access Program: This program will ensure that all children have the
opportunity to learn the fundamentals of movement, excitement of learning, rewards of building friendships and learning lifelong skills in spite of having barriers such as income or transportation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters: The “Big Bunch” program will be offered to children currently on the BBBS waiting list. With a specific focus on physical and mental health outcomes, the program is designed to motivate and engage youth to enhance their self-awareness and awareness of others, and increasing their self-esteem in order to provide a sense of belonging and strengthen social skills.
Highland Residential Community Services: Northern Region Respite Services (under management of Highland Residential Community Services), presently offers several extended respite programs. These programs provide families with valuable opportunities for respite, but do not satisfy the need of respite on weekends throughout the year. The Saturday Respite Program offers families five hours of Saturday respite per month. But more than a break for parents, these programs offer enriched experiences for participants with demonstrated outcomes. Extended respite programs provide an opportunity for children to create sustainable social networks outside of the educational environment. The environment at these respite events facilitates friendship and fosters acceptance and inclusivity, all important dimensions of healthy child development.
NSHA – Mental Health & Addictions, Child and Adolescent Team: The “Quickstart Behavioural Activation (QBA) Program” is designed as a means of engaging youth in group settings, with a focus on mental wellness instead of mental illness. It teaches therapeutic and mindfulness skills in managing panic, self-care, and coping with thoughts of self-harm and suicide. The program provides behavioural activation (the gold standard for depression), increases self-efficacy and self-esteem, and promotes connectedness and validation with others. QBA is designed to work in combination with other mental health initiatives as a form of treatment, as well as a form of prevention for long term lifestyle and health challenges.
Pictou County Roots for Youth: The “Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training” (ASIST) program will deliver suicide intervention skills to staff and volunteers to equip them with the skills needed to assess and handle situations where youth are expressing thoughts of ending their own lives. The program is delivered by the Canadian Mental Health Association to businesses, schools and non-profit organizations.
Pictou County Sexual Health Centre: The “Rainbow Rec” program will deliver monthly physical and artistic activities designed to address inequities in mental and physical health outcomes experienced by LGBTQ+ youth. Due to marginalization and discrimination, this population is at an increased risk of developing mental health problems, including depression and suicide. Providing healthy physical and artistic activities in a safe and welcoming environment will create a sense of community, while promoting activities that contribute to mental and physical health. This programming is in accordance with the Canadian Mental Health Association strategies to encourage prevention, acceptance, skill development, confidence, and healthy relationships.
Pictou County Women’s Resource & Sexual Assault Centre: The “Finding Me” program was created and written by the Centre to address the important issues surrounding consent, sexual safety, sexual violence, mental health, and LGBTQ+ issues that young people face. The objective of the program is to create a school-based strategy to prevent mental health issues among youth in our community and similarly provide a program to prevent incidences of sexualized violence.
Tearmann Society: The Tearmann House provides safe haven for women and children at risk. Children are provided with counselling, programs, and services. The CAS funding supported enhancements to the children’s playroom, to create a safe space where children can go for counselling, support, play, and social time with others.
Autism Pictou County: Music therapy is a creative arts therapy to improve psychological functioning using musical experiences. It has been shown to have very positive outcomes for children on the autism spectrum, helping to reinforce positive and productive behaviours. This funding allowed the organization to deliver this program for free to children on the autism spectrum.
Kids First Association: The “Supporting African Nova Scotia Families” program will help build relationships with the African Nova Scotian community in hopes of improving their access to important services. CAS funding supported programming ranging from a health expo and food mentoring to parenting support, and personal development. The initiative will help the African Nova Scotian community in Pictou County come together to share experiences immersed in cultural significance, and learn to navigate systems and other barriers that act to limit health outcomes for members of this community.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters – Game On! Eat Smart! Play Smart!: Game On! Eat Smart! Play Smart! provides boys and young men with information and support to make informed choices about a range of healthy lifestyle practices. Through non-traditional physical activities, complemented with healthy eating support, participants are engaged in life skills, communication, and emotional health discussions. This program is delivered by volunteer mentors who are trained to deliver the program. So the program is not only serving the youth but also training young people to become mentors giving them valuable experience through volunteerism.
Pictou County Roots for Youth Society – Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds: The Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds Project is about giving youth who are experiencing, or who have recently experienced homelessness, access to physical activity through the YMCA of Pictou County.
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate the symptoms of low self-esteem and social withdrawal. The vast majority of young people seeking accommodation from Roots for Youth have mental health challenges.
Ridgeway Academy: Bridgeway is investing in specialized seating at its Pictou County campus to meet sensory and movement needs that help students with self-regulation in the classroom, and in doing so, improves concentration and on task behaviour that will increase academic performance.
deCoste Entertainment Centre: Performing arts, health, and education will intersect when high school students, teachers, and support staff from Pictou County schools attend a workshop and performance by Ivan Coyote. The complex, personal issues surrounding gender identity is the focus.
Maranatha Bible Church: Complementing their Community Garden, the Community Cupboard Cooking Club – Community Kitchens will be helping families respond to food security challenges by mentoring cooking skills and low cost healthy meal planning, along with good food safety practices and shopping on a budget.
Saltsprings Elementary: Building on recent enhancements to their outdoor classroom, school garden, and play equipment, Saltsprings will build capacity and add some new features to this important space that is used extensively by the school and surrounding community.
Thorburn Consolidated: The goal of “Alert, Calm and Focused” is to teach and support the skills of mindfulness and emotional self-regulation, helping students identify their feelings, improve behavioural control, and decrease off task behaviours.
Family Services of Northern Nova Scotia: “Trauma Informed Parenting Supports – TIPS” is a community based, multi-agency program targeting young parents with chaotic families of origin. Creating opportunities for therapeutic healing of long-term trauma, TIPS addresses parenting supports with complex families.
Westville Rotary Club: Families of Westville and all of Pictou County can enjoy the new Splash Water Park at Acadia Park. It’s a fun, friendly area for families to gather, exercise, and socialize without cost.
Roots for Youth Society: Roots is now providing Transitional Housing for Youth at Risk of Homelessness. Two houses with safe, affordable accommodation and support from staff as needed will bridge the gap for many who need a little help as they make their way to independent living.