NANAIMO — Helping residents before they need care is the focus of new Island Health community funding.
Janet Shute, manager of partnerships and external engagement with Island Health, told NanaimoNewsNOW their community wellness grant program is designed to change how they interact with local initiatives.
“This isn't focused on access to services and those types of things. This is about reducing the future reliance on the health system. We want to help promote healthy lifestyles,” she said.
To receive the $12,000 grant, Shute said applicants had to show they helped groups which normally require care, such as seniors or those struggling with obesity.
More than $195,000 was handed out in the Nanaimo and Oceanside area of the $750,000 total across Vancouver Island.
Thanks to the grant, the Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society can host their year-long “Healthy Eating and Lifestyles for Newcomers to Canada” program.
Society executive director Anita Smith said they want to reduce stress for those new to Canada by taking the confusion out of cooking and following directions in a different language.
“A lot of times newcomers in the community, their kids go to school, they have lunch, they see what other Canadian kids are eating and they want to fit in. They don't want to stand out. That's sometimes a huge barrier,” she said.
They'll run five, six-week sessions, with the next one starting in May at the Princess Royal Family Centre.
Nanaimo's library also received funding for their “Celebrating Girls, Celebrating Community” workshop, which is designed to help 12 local at-risk girls learn how to express themselves through art and dance.
Jason Kuffler, a librarian who's involved with the program, said the 12 girls will meet every Saturday from September 2017 to April 2018. They'll finish with a performance at Vancouver Island University's Nanaimo campus to showcase how they've grown.
“There's no doubt this program is going to change the lives of 12 girls in Nanaimo,” Kuffler said.
Though their programs won't be eligible for funding next year, both Kuffler and Smith said they'll explore ways to keep their programs running if they're successful.
The full list of community grants can be found online.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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