together we can grow, share and learn
2016 11 29 14
Dr. Martin Cooke explaining the findings of the HWC project
2016 11 29 14
2016 11 29 15
Lenora Gilbert, HWC's Niagara site coordinator sharing some of her highlights from HWC events
2016 11 29 15
Niagara’s HWC Year in Review

While the Healthy Weights Connection Project wraps up in Niagara it gives us a great opportunity to look back at what the project has accomplished and hopes to leave in its wake. 

The introduction of the Healthy Weights Connection (HWC) Niagara as a third site meant that most of my time was spent in the community at meetings, exploring, networking and attending events learning and creating awareness of the HWC Project, its goals and proposed outcomes; this being to find out where potential existed for connections and assist with liaising to implement those links.  I became quite the Niagara Peninsula navigator! I was fortunate to make acquaintance with members of the community from Niagara-on-the-Lake, where I was based out of the Niagara Regional Native Centre (NRNC), to Fort Erie, St Catharines, Welland, Lincoln and Pelham; from front line workers, Program Managers/Directors and Executive Directors to Mayors and MPP’s, all of whom serve their respective communities with passion and commitment.

I had the honour of supporting many Niagara programs through promotion and attendance.  A few of these opportunities were Aboriginal stream of Healthy Kids Community Challenge, Waterfall Hikes, ‘Journey to the Falls’, NRNC’s ‘Hike-4-Health’ group exploring Niagara and Hamilton hiking paths, NRNC Socials, Pow Wow and Community Picnic, SOADI Healthy Living Friday’s as well as several local Healthy Kids Community Challenge Theme 1, ‘Run. Jump. Play. Everyday.’ launches and initial planning stages of ‘Rites of Passage’ for youth.

Through networking luncheons connections were made that enabled initiatives from London and Midland sites to instigate collaborations and partnerships to develop between Indigenous and mainstream organizations here in Niagara; the ‘Skate Lending Library’ of the Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living for Kids Program at NRNC drew donations from the community and a collaboration effort from Power Play Sports in Niagara Falls to collect donations on behalf of NRNC to support the creation of a program empowering Children and Youth to be accountable in engaging in their community.  Children and youth will be offered the opportunity to own new or gently used skates by earning them through performing tasks related to supporting an event in their community; a hand-up, not a hand-out. The other activity that crossed sites was the ‘Baby Book Bundle’, an initiative that brought NRNC and Niagara Chapter of Native Women together to provide families of newborn babies with information on the importance of early literacy on lifelong learning and health as well as several infant board books. Kick-starting that initiative was the connection with First Book Canada and a donation of more than 400 books as well as grant awarded to HWC Niagara through First Book Canada and TD Canada Trust. Further connections were made that will explore partnerships between STARK Play (formerly The Recess Project), Heart Niagara and SOADI to engage children in physical activity centred around learning about health and cultural education through a variety of games and activities. 

It is the hope that HWC's presence in the Niagara area was able to help individuals, programs and organizations further understand the importance of opening conversation, creating collaborations and establishing workable partnerships with the Indigenous and mainstream communities. Although many organizations were already connecting, it was empowering to know that added connections, programs and awareness of activities were created in Niagara through the HWC Project.