The Aberdeen Health Foundation has awarded nearly $50,000 in funding to 10 community projects that are working to improve the health of the people of Pictou County.
Population Health is an approach that aims to maintain health and prevent illness in the population at large and reduce health inequities among population groups. Earlier this year, the Aberdeen Health Foundation announced it had $50,000 for such initiatives and received 18 applications with requests totalling more than $230,000.
The projects approved for funding target a range of indicators that foster wellness, including fitness and physical activity, mental health and social bonding, healthy aging, and food security.
The YMCA of Pictou County will host indoor and outdoor community-based pop-up activities that will promote active living. Games, hikes, play spaces, and fitness classes for children, youth, and families are all a part of the ‘Y on the Move’ program that will pop-up in parks, public areas, beaches, community centres, and at community events around the county this year.
The New Glasgow Farmers Market in partnership with Kids First Association will work to improve accessibility to fresh, local produce for families who participate in Kids First programming. The Healthy Living Program will introduce the market to 10 families with a chance to experience the special community gathering place that it is. It will attempt to reduce barriers to accessing the market, both real and perceived.
The Pictou County Trails Association will offer a Field Leader Hiking Course that will build capacity to provide more guided hiking experiences and introduce more people to the mental and physical health benefits of using the trail system that is available locally.
The Durham Community Hall will deliver a Community Health and Exercise project that will help rural seniors stay connected and active with low cost/no cost exercise programming and resources.
Lismore Senior’s Outreach is organizing weekly programming with guest speakers to help rural seniors learn about their health, socialize, and overcome feelings of isolation.
School is an important environment to reinforce the connection between nutrition, health, and education. The Pictou County Continuous Learning Association will work to improve literacy through a breakfast program that will teach the essentials of good nutrition, budgeting, and meal planning, while enhancing the learning environment and giving students a greater likelihood of success.
Active Therapy – A Positive Step to Improved Mental Health will be offered by the Riverview Home Volunteer Association to its 90 residents. Activities will be customized to participants, with opportunities ranging from walking, dance, chair exercise, swimming, music therapy, gardening, and computer, as well as field trips to the beach and other destinations.
The Pictou County Seniors Council will use arts and creativity as a way to better physical and mental health for seniors. The Wellness @ Home – Healthy Aging Through the Arts program will use drawing, storytelling, dance, singing, and humour to break down barriers that result in low self-esteem, social isolation, bullying, and negativity that may be experienced by seniors living in public housing.
Pictou County Recreation and Athletic Society will develop a 55+ Learn to Run program to help older adults overcome the fear of trying a new physical activity. The funding will help educate older adults about the health benefits of running and create a safe and inclusive space, while removing barriers such as cost.
The Town of Westville will receive funds to create a participatory urban farm that will provide food security for families, support knowledge transfer and skill building for growing food and healthy eating, and instil a sense of community through stewardship of a shared space.
“The premise of these programs is to create more occasions for physical activity and play in daily life, more opportunities for socializing and fostering mental health, and more education on nutrition and healthy lifestyles while reducing the costs and other barriers to making healthy choices, and building skills for food security,” says Dr. Aaron Smith, Health Foundation Director and Chair of the Population Health Committee.
“Together these projects are aiming to change the social and physical environments in which people live, learn, work, play, and age, and helping more people live healthier lives.”
As a physician with a background in community health, Smith was pleased to see the response from community organizations for this funding and is pleased to be part of a Health Foundation that understands the benefits of a population health approach.