Fostering Connections to Strengthen Well-Being

Seventeen projects across the Columbia Basin will help address social isolation, increase meaningful connections and reduce barriers to accessing services with over $522,000 from Columbia Basin Trust. 

“Social isolation can affect well-being and quality of life, which is why we’ve committed to helping communities improve social inclusion and increase people’s feelings of connection and belonging,” said Aimee Ambrosone, Director, Delivery of Benefits at Columbia Basin Trust. “These local solutions will get people the help they need, increase their participation in community activities, expand their social networks and build mutually rewarding relationships between people of all ages and stages of life.”

The Trust selected these projects through a call for Expressions of Interest over winter 2018/19, which addresses one of the goals in the Trust’s Social Strategic Plan, developed with input from the people of the Bas

Here are a few of the projects:

Connecting to Culture
“We anticipate strengthened local relationships,” said Megan Irving, Coordinator of the Aboriginal Friendship Society of Revelstoke. The society is spearheading a project aimed at bringing together people to share traditional culture and history. Elders and knowledge-keepers will get together with children (newborn to age six), their educators and caregivers, and others in the community to share Indigenous knowledge, stories, histories and activities. This will create opportunities for people of different ages and backgrounds to increase their social connections.

“Because their immediate groups of family and friends may be small, both elders and children participating in this program can be deemed at risk of experiencing social isolation from their cultural region and Indigenous peers,” said Irving. “Providing the opportunity for intergenerational learning between Indigenous elders, knowledge-keepers and the children of Revelstoke has a direct impact on the social connections of both children and elders in our community and region.”

The Benefits of a Bike
In partnership with Jackie Kimmel of Cranbrook Cycling Without Age (CWA), the Cranbrook Society for Community Living will implement a CWA program with the purchase of a trishaw. A trishaw is a specialized bike with an electric-assist motor that allows a pilot to take up to two passengers for rides in the community.

“A CWA trishaw is a great way to bring social experiences to people who otherwise may not be able to easily get around, such as seniors or those with developmental disabilities,” said Kelly Klein, Manager of Administration. “By creating social connections between riders and volunteer pilots—with the added bonuses of enjoying nature and having fun—our program will assist in reducing social isolation and support active volunteerism for many in our community.”

Reducing Isolation for New Parents
From lack of sleep to isolation from other people, becoming a parent has its challenges. Whether living in larger communities like Castlegar, Nelson and Trail, or smaller, more remote ones like Salmo and Kaslo, families can often use support. The Kootenay Perinatal Support Society will help make the transition to parenting easier by matching families in these areas with trained volunteers who can assist them on topics like newborn growth and infant sleep, aid them with household tasks or getting out of the house, or help them access beneficial resources.

“Becoming parents can be a very hard and stressful time for many people, especially when there is no family close by,” said Program Coordinator Tracy Hill. “Extra support—and sometimes just listening and being with them—can help with reducing anxiety, depression and isolation while improving overall mental health for our families and communities.”

Friendships Through Food
A great way to connect with others is to get together in a kitchen. The W.E. Graham Community Service Society is putting this concept into action by offering a Farm to Table Intergenerational Cooking program in the Slocan Valley. People of all ages—from families with infants and children, to seniors—are invited to get to know one another in meaningful ways, all while learning how to work with locally sourced ingredients and recipes from different cultural heritages.

“This free, fun weekly event promotes social interaction and facilitates the development of all kinds of food skills—plus provides participants with a free, nutritious meal,” said Susan Kammerzell, Intergenerational Cooking Coordinator. “Cooking and sharing food is a fast track to creating a neighbourly experience, reducing the social isolation that can affect people in rural communities.”

The Trust also offers support to projects that improve social well-being and strengthen social connections through its Social Grants and Child Care Support programs. Learn more at ourtrust.org/social.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.