United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes is coming into the final legs of its year-long Veggies for Vets project: a Community Garden and social inclusion initiative which aims to increase the availability of fresh produce and physical activity for seniors, while also offering social media and technology workshops to aid in social connections. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizon for Seniors Program which provides grants for projects that make a difference in the lives of seniors and in their communities. The United Way’s holistic approach of combining physical and social wellbeing activities both lowers nutritional risk for seniors, and increases social participation which has its own multitude of benefits. (Statistics Canada: Physical and Mental Health)
“Overall, we are very proud of the impact our project has created,” said Project Manager, Elly Millington. “We have seen huge growth in attendance at our technology workshops, and the garden outreach has been spectacular. Our original goal was to connect with a few Legions in our area so that we may create mutually beneficial relationships: providing them with garden beds to offer physical activity to those who tend the gardens, while simultaneously offering technology workshops to improve social inclusion among participants. We were successful in not only connecting with four Legions in our area, but we also partnered with Food Banks, Food Centres, Community Kitchens, and community agencies to expand our reach and continue the project when funding ends. What we’ve found is that people are very receptive to working on food security in their neighbourhoods, and more and more people are wanting to spend time outdoors growing their own food.”
Along with growing their own food, an increasing number of seniors are participating in social media: most see it as a way to connect with their friends, family members, and younger generations. Many of the seniors taking classes want to learn, but simply do not know where to begin. That’s where Workshop Facilitator Josh Webster steps in:
“A lot of the seniors taking our classes don’t know what they don’t know,” said Workshop Facilitator, Josh Webster. “So, we start at the beginning. We are able to walk them through the basics of something simple like taking a photo from their cellphone and putting it onto their laptop to then sort into files or post online. These skills allow them to better participate in the growing world of social media and technology, hopefully lessening the risk of becoming a social recluse, especially for those living in rural areas.”
Through the Veggies for Vets project, United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes was able to partner with Community Care who have a vast reach to people who are interested in learning more about the technology they use in their everyday lives. Technology workshops will continue to run every Wednesday until March 13th, 2019 at the Lindsay Legion from 1-3pm, and will cover a wide array of topics from learning to copy and paste, to online security and staying safe when using online banking or social media. Anyone interested in more information or signing up for workshops should contact Elly Millington, Projects and Communications Coordinator at the United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes: 705-878-5081.
The World Health Organization defines good health as “not merely an absence of illness or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing” (Statistics Canada, Seniors and Health)
34% of Canadians aged 65 and up are at nutritional risk, meaning they have gained or lost more than 10 pounds in the past six months, and skip meals regularly. (Statistics Canada, One-third at Risk)
Gardening is the second most popular physical activity in Canada, attracting 72% of Canadian adults; physical activity reduces the risk of premature death, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, depression and cancer. (FoodShare.net, Community Gardening 101)