How many of you enjoy kicking around a soccer ball or throwing around a frisbee at your local park or sports field? Can you imagine living in an area where there is little to no green space for physical activity, recreation and…well just plain fun?
For many rural communities, this is a reality which can hinder physical activity and socialization in the community – both crucial components of living a healthy lifestyle.
Residents of Random Island know this too well – but that is all about to change thanks to some passionate residents and a grant from Eastern Health’s Community Development Fund!
This year, the Random East Walking Group was awarded $9,666 from the Community Development Fund for its project Random Island Sports Complex.
“At this current time, Random Island does not have a field of grass that could be used for leisure, sport or recreation,” said Penny Currie, member of the Random East Walking Group. “Our project will create a green space on Random Island that can be used by residents of all ages for recreation and leisure.”
While the grant was presented to the walking group, the project is really a team effort with three other organizations partnering in the initiative – the Random East Volunteer Fire Department; the Petley, Britannia, Lower Lance Cove Recreation Committee and Random Island Academy; as that is where the new space will be located.
“We are very excited about the project and the opportunities it will create for our students and their families. Our school provides K-12 education for children residing on Random Island. By putting the green space on school grounds, we know that the space will be very accessible and that every child and their family will benefit,” said Kurt Blackmore, principal of Random Island Academy.
Physical education teacher Neil Baker shares Mr. Blackmore’s excitement, as he is always looking for ways to promote physical activity and recreation amongst youth at the school.
“Besides your own back yard, where can children go on Random Island to take part in outdoor activities?” said Mr. Baker. “This green space will create a safe place for the children to take part in physical and recreational activity. The space will be a work in progress – it will not only provide the communities of Random Island with a place to play sports, but will also provide a venue to launch recreational programs, hold classes outside on nice days, host outdoor fitness groups, play a friendly game of frisbee or even a place to share a picnic with friends or family. The opportunities are endless!”
Mr. Baker is volunteering his time to do a lot of the excavation thanks to a fellow resident lending him the necessary equipment. Members of the Random East Volunteer Fire Department, Recreation Committee and other community volunteers will help with the labour, while funding from the grants will be used to purchase top soil, sods, fencing and the soccer nets. If all goes to plan, the new space will be ready by next summer!
Needless to say – the project is literally being developed by the community!
About Community Development Grants
Each year Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees awards Community Development Grants to groups that aim to build a sense of community, strengthen social support networks, develop community connections, address a priority need, strengthens supportive environments, and strengthen community action.
This year, members from our Board of Trustees and executive team have been meeting with the 2014 recipients in their home communities to learn more about their projects and how they promote healthy communities. Board member Bill Abbott met with the Random East Walking Group and other community partners in September 2014, which provided him with an opportunity to speak with the recipients and gain a better understanding of what the funding means to them.
“It is rewarding to speak with recipients directly about how we can work together to improve the health of individuals, families and the communities in which we live, work and play,” said Bill Abbott.
“After meeting with this group, I am further convinced that this project will positively impact the residents of Random Island. It is nice to see first-hand how this funding from the board will be put back into the community.”
The Community Development Fund, valued at $50,000, was established in 2007 by Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees. Since the first grants were awarded in 2008, over $340,000 has been invested in 45 community groups and organizations. ■
This story was written by Jackie O’Brien, Media Relations Manager at Eastern Health.