Putting a priority on play
What has “learning logs,” “toadstool seats” and an “ocean wave spinner”? The wilderness-themed Devonian Playground in Elkford’s Creekside Park.
Until recently, the park had a range of options for active people—including baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, walking and skateboarding—but not a decent playground.
With lots of community input, support and volunteers—and a grant from the Trust—that’s now changed. “Elkford playgrounds are primarily located within neighbourhoods,” says Kathryn Kitt, Project Manager. “Our goal was to create a centrally located, community-scale play space where residents and visitors can gather and play.”
Now there’s a new playground that draws people together, provides play opportunities for multiple ages and abilities and promotes physical activity—all while the kids have fun.
Faster Internet at Selkirk College campuses
“It’s night and day as compared to before,” says Justin Robinson, a Selkirk College graduate and instructor in the college’s School of Environment and Geomatics. “Internet connection at Selkirk now is the same as you would get in downtown Vancouver.”
Selkirk College faculty and students are now benefiting from 10x faster Internet speeds. That’s because the Trail, Castlegar and Nelson campuses have connected to the fibre-optic broadband network owned and managed by the Trust, through its wholly owned subsidiary the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation.
The ability to connect to high-speed Internet impacts many aspects of Basin residents’ lives, which is why the Trust is actively working to expand it throughout the region. This impact includes education, whether it means students can study from home or instructors can find new ways to engage with their classes.
As Brendan Wilson, Chair of Selkirk’s School of Environment and Geomatics, says, “We’re living in the 21st century and our residents need the same opportunities as those in large centres.”
Customs come to life
For two days each year, local and international drummers and dancers, from as far as Tibet and New Zealand, gather just outside of Creston to celebrate Ktunaxa and other Indigenous cultures. The Ktunaxa community of Yaqan Nukiy (Lower Kootenay) has hosted this annual pow wow since 1991. Supported by the Trust, the 28th annual event took place in May, with the theme “Honouring the Earth.”
Keeping wildlife wild and communities safe
Basin residents prize our great outdoors, including our wildlife. Run by the BC Conservation Foundation, WildSafeBC helps people learn how to reduce the potential for conflict with wildlife like bears, deer, coyotes and cougars.
Since 2010, the Trust and WildSafeBC have worked together to keep people safe and animals wild. Now this partnership has program coordinators in 12 communities delivering a range of services, from electric fencing workshops to helping communities become officially Bear Smart.
Frank Ritcey, Provincial Coordinator, says positive strides are being made: “When Bear Aware started in 1999 there were, on average, over 1,000 bears a year being destroyed province-wide. Currently that number is closer to 600 bears a year. Overall, we could say that there is an almost 40 per cent reduction in bear destructions.”
People are vital to run a non-profit organization—and so is technology. In the Lardeau Valley, the Lardeau Valley Opportunity LINKS Society helps community members live and thrive in this relatively isolated area. While the society has an office located in Meadow Creek, it was lacking in updated electronic devices and relied on staff members, volunteers and others to bring their own laptops and other electronics. The Trust’s Non-profit Tech Grants helped the society and over 100 other non-profits upgrade their equipment. The LINKS office now sports a high-quality laptop, a printer/copier/scanner, a phone and more. With these essentials, the society can serve its community even better.
PLAYS helps kids get active
How can school teachers increase motivation and confidence in their students so they’ll participate in physical activity? How can community youth sports groups build capacity in their coaches? How can schools and communities create safe, inclusive and quality sports programming? The Trust will be helping in all these areas and more through its new Physical Literacy and Youth Sport (PLAYS) initiative. From resources, to grants, to opportunities for collaboration, the initiative will promote physical activity for children and youth aged four to 18 by working with Basin schools and community sports organizations.
Learn more when the program launches in fall 2018.
New direction = concrete results
High staff and board turnover and a long wait-list for its child care spaces: these were some of the challenges the Valemount Children’s Activity Society was facing when it turned to the Trust’s Non-profit Advisors Program.
The program connects non-profit organizations with resources and advisors who assess the organizations’ needs and provide recommendations, free of charge. It may also subsidize additional consulting.
In Valemount, a consultant helped the society outline roles for its board members and staff to ease everyone’s workload. He prepared goals and actions for the society and created a strategic plan. He encouraged the society to take the necessary steps to expand its child care spaces, from renovating to licensing.
Manager Krista Voth says, “Through the clarification and guidance of the advisor we were able to organize ourselves and strive for what we wanted, with a clear path to follow. I don’t think it could have happened as quickly or as smoothly—or at all—without this program.”
Support toward a brighter future
Affording both life and post-secondary school can be tricky—especially when you’re the mother of two.
Castlegar’s Angela Erickson is a student at Selkirk College. Through the Education Assistant and Community Support Worker Program, she’s learning to work with children and adults living with disabilities, their families, teachers and other support professionals in schools and community care.
As the mother of two sons—one born with a cleft lip and palate like Erickson, and one who has worked hard to overcome a brain injury—the struggle, financial and otherwise, hasn’t been easy.
Then she learned she had received two bursaries—including $1,000 from the Trust, which she had applied for through Selkirk’s financial aid office.
“It sent me over the moon,” she says. “If it wasn’t for these bursaries, I’m not sure what we would have done.”
She now looks forward to making a difference to children facing challenges. “I hope in the future I’m able to make the road for somebody else at least a little bit easier to navigate.”
Helping an additional 225 families access local healthy food, reducing wait-lists at 10 Basin farmers’ markets and adding five new markets to the program…it all became a reality in June 2018.
The Trust is helping the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets expand its nutrition coupon program in the Basin. This program provides coupons to lower-income families, seniors and pregnant women participating in food literacy programs delivered by a number of community partners.
Valued at $21 per week, the coupons enable participants to shop at participating farmers’ markets for vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, meat and more from June to October.