Five organizations in Pictou County are receiving funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation’s Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Endowment.
The endowment was established to support projects that alleviate risk, prevent crisis, and enhance the potential for healthy outcomes for children, youth, and families in Pictou County.
The projects will together receive more than $95,000, and range from community gardens and safe, play-based learning equipment to respite services, and education about healthy living.
Community Cupboard’s new garden is feeding families and fostering food security
For six years now, the Maranatha Bible Church Community Cupboard program has provided supplies of clothing, bedding, dishes and non-perishable food items to anyone in need.
This year, with the support of a grant from the Aberdeen Health Foundation’s CAS Endowment, the Community Cupboard now has its very own garden, which it is using to supply fresh, local, healthy produce to participating families.
The goal of the Community Cupboard is to help people help themselves, and it is achieving this by moving beyond supplying food, to providing mentorship and food demos to teach gardening and food preparation skills. In the process, the project is building food security for the 100 or so families who participate, the majority of whom have school-aged children.
“We are very, very thankful for the support we have received from the Aberdeen Health Foundation and other organizations, which has enabled us to move forward with the garden,” says Pastor Stearns. “And we are ever so thankful to the members of our church community who give in service to make the Community Cupboard run. It is very meaningful to see those who have themselves been helped in the past by the Community Cupboard now helping others.”
The Foundation’s CAS Endowment was established to support projects that alleviate risk, prevent crisis, and enhance the potential for healthy outcomes for children, youth, and families in Pictou County. By supporting the Community Cupboard garden, the Aberdeen Health Foundation is having a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of participating families.
Aberdeen Health Foundation’s CAS endowment is providing funds to Summer Street for a 12-month health and wellness pilot project. The program will provide information and promote healthy living to Summer Street’s clients via presentations, demonstrations and guest speakers. It will also introduce clients to different health and wellness opportunities that are available to them in our community.
The program will focus on education and physical activity. It will help participants become more aware of health concerns, including how to recognize when something is wrong. They will also learn about health services and resources that are available, as well as social support networks that they can connect with.
Using Summer Street’s client-centred model, the project includes the development of individualized health plans for each participant. Summer Street will be partnering with Pictou County YMCA (Wellness Centre), Department of Community Services, CHAD and Pictou County Center for Sexual Health to deliver the program.
“The only reason Summer Street exists is to create opportunities for people with intellectual disability. We are a person centered organization and it is reflected in everything we do,” says Bob Bennett, Summer Street’s Executive Director. “Our clients asked us to find a way to provide health and wellness education and increased access to the YMCA. The funding provided by the Aberdeen Health Foundation CAS endowment enabled us to do this. We are very thankful for our new partnership with the Aberdeen Health Foundation; together we are providing a much needed service for people with intellectual disability in Pictou County.”
New Glasgow Academy
Aberdeen Health Foundation’s CAS Endowment has provided funding for an innovative play-based program at New Glasgow Academy. “Let’s Play!” uses play to teach resilience, self-regulation, and communication skills to students in the 4 Plus to Grade Two classrooms.
“Let’s Play!” fosters healthy child development and builds skills for success by creating an environment rich in play opportunities that engage the imagination, encourage good communication skills, and build relationships.
Speaking about the program, which is now in action in the classrooms, Amanda Bonvie, Grade Two teacher says, “We are pleased to share that each classroom is ensuring that our students are engaging in play based learning activities daily. We are observing wonderful relationships being developed and rich conversations occurring. Creativity is flowing through the elementary classrooms at New Glasgow Academy. Promoting social and emotional wellbeing of our students and developing positive relationships is still the forefront of our project and we look forward to watching the classroom community build throughout the school year. We continue to witness daily positive benefits from the project.”
In its efforts to ensure “Let’s Play!” is a model of excellence for the education of young people in Pictou County, the program was developed in consultation with a professor from St FX who specializes in play based learning.
Recently, Susan Malcolm and Susan Green of the Aberdeen Health Foundation visited the school to see the “Let’s Play!” program in action. “I found the energy in the room spellbinding,” says Malcolm. “To see all the children engaged and interacting, and so eager to tell you what they were doing. It was such a good feeling. School has changed a great deal since I went.”
New play-rich learning space at Kids First is making sure no one is left behind.
The Aberdeen Health Foundation’s CAS Endowment Legacy Fund is supporting a significant capital project at Kids First Family Resource Centre to create a play-based learning environment.
Children learn by exploring, playing, imitating and observing. Play in early childhood shapes our brain and has lasting effects on how we communicate, think, and develop emotional wellbeing and beneficial social skills. These profound and lasting impacts of play have been well documented.
The funding will be used by Kids First to purchase equipment that will help create a fun, inspiring, play-enriched learning environment that reflects the latest research and safety standards.
“Kids First reaches families that are currently underrepresented and not accessing other public programs and services,” says CAS Fund Chair, Robyn Eaton. “We are very pleased this support will help realize the fundamental goals of the CAS Fund – to support children and families so they can thrive in our community.”
The Aberdeen Health Foundation’s Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Legacy Fund was established by the former Children’s Aid Society of Pictou County and is dedicated to supporting capital projects that symbolize and create a lasting tribute to that organization.
Speaking of the support from the Aberdeen Health Foundation, Kids First Executive Director Michelle Ward feels this sends such an important message to the people her organization serves.
“The spirit of the CAS Legacy fund is to foster caring environments so children can have the opportunity to flourish. Kids First Family Resource Centre supports the dignity of families and the dynamic communities in which they grow. The similarities in philosophy allow great opportunity to reach families who traditionally do not engage in services and programs in our community. It certainly sends a very strong message to families participating in our services that the Aberdeen Health Foundation believes in the importance of the creation of safe play environments and learning together regardless of income or life circumstances and without judgment. The generosity and support of the Aberdeen Health Foundation is humbling.”
Highland Community Residential Services (HCRS) and Northern Region Respite Services (NRRS) has received funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation’s CAS Endowment toward two projects. The organization will use this support to increase the respite service it provides on weekends to children and youth with intellectual disabilities. During the respite sessions, participants will engage in activities that enhance physical, social and recreational skills, including various community outings.
“It can be a challenge for children with varying abilities to create and sustain friendships. However, the environment at respite events facilitates friendships and fosters acceptance and inclusivity, says Amanda Smith Robinson of HCRS. “It has been our experience that children who have sustainable friendships have a more positive self-image, higher self-esteem, better coping skills and positive social skills.”
Support will also be provided to HCRS and NRRS for assessing the impact and outcomes of its respite services. This evidence-based information will be used to adapt and improve its programs to better reflect the needs of families.
“We are pleased the CAS Endowment is supporting this HCRS program, which provides enriching experiences to young people with intellectual disability and also provides invaluable respite and social bonding time for their families,” says Robyn Eaton of the Aberdeen Health Foundation.
The Foundation’s CAS Endowment was established to support projects that alleviate risk, prevent crisis, and enhance the potential for healthy outcomes for children, youth, and families in Pictou County.