Whether it’s free clothing, housing support, employment services or more information on wellness programs, the Wellness Connection tour has all the details.
And the tour is cruising its way across Niagara offering trade show-like events to raise awareness about these resources and services people might need, but don’t necessarily know about it.
At least once a week, the tour stops in one community in the region, including St Catharines, Welland, Niagara Falls, Thorold, Crystal Beach, Fort Erie and Port Colborne.
Christina Milloy, a graduate of Niagara College’s recreation therapy program and founder of Club Wellness Niagara, said the tour, which started in February, was created in response to the systemic barriers she sees people continually face regarding their health and wellness.
“I just thought it would be great for organizations to come together, and go on this traveling tour to different areas in the community and provide people with support.”
Milloy explained the tour was initially meant to target people experiencing poverty in their own communities, but it is free and open to anyone. She added attendance has been strong so far.
“What we are seeing is all different people from all different walks of life,” she said.
At least 1,000 people have already benefited from the more than 12 wellness events that have taken place since it began. Each event is tailored to the needs of the community, and features representatives from local services and agencies including Niagara Regional Housing, Niagara’s Mobile Closet, the Salvation Army, EarlyON and Niagara Parents to name just a few.
The goal of the project is to connect with people and adapting services to meet the needs of the people.
“Not everyone knows what’s out there in terms of resources and not everyone has the transportation they need to access them,” Milloy said.
The project has been funded by the Niagara Community Foundation for one year and it’s spearheaded by Club Wellness Niagara.
Milloy said Niagara College students in the recreation therapy and social service worker programs have had an invaluable impact working with the project while gaining hands-on experience.
The students have conversations with event participants, engage them in recreational activities and connect them to the community resources they need. They also have the responsibility of creating feedback surveys, analyzing the data and writing reports.
“It’s been a valuable learning experience for students, and a great way for organizations to outreach in the community and connect with people,” Milloy said.
Funding for the tour will expire in December 2022, but Milloy would love to see the tour become a continuing service in the new year. She plans to apply for more funding to grow the program. “There is definitely potential to collaborate with community partners to apply for more funding and continue to grow,” she said.
Upcoming stops on the tour include Welland on May 19 at 70 Young St., from 3 pm to 5:30 pm; Thorold on June 4 at 40 Pine St. South, from noon until 2 pm; St. Catharines on June 10 at 479 Carlton St., from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm; and Niagara Falls on June 15 at 6600 Kalar Rd. from 1 pm to 3 pm