Healthy People, Healthy Communities – that’s the vision that drives employees of Eastern Health to work hard for the people they care for each day!
Throughout her co-op term, Laura Collis, a former co-operative education student with Eastern Health’s Corporate Communications Department had the pleasure of seeing how health-care professionals and support staff contribute towards making their communities across the eastern region a better place – with one interaction, one smile and one great initiative at a time.
During her time with Eastern Health, Laura very quickly became aware that the organization has a very large and complex responsibility to provide quality, safe and accessible care to the people of the region, and for all of Newfoundland and Labrador for several programs and services. She learned that Eastern Health carries out its vision in a variety of ways – through partnering with the community, government and other organizations. Partnerships such as this are key to fulfilling the organization’s mission and strategic priorities.
Laura believes that a huge part of maintaining healthy communities is building and maintaining strong connections with organizations and community groups that support each other’s likeminded goals. For example, over the past year-and-a-half, Laura has been working with the student-run, non-profit organization called Enactus Memorial. The student volunteers of Enactus Memorial work together to run projects that benefit community members through social, environmental and economic means.
One of Enactus Memorial’s most successful and widely recognized projects is Project SucSeed, which employs at-risk youth from Choices for Youth to build hydroponic systems. These systems are sold to schools, retirement and long-term care homes, soup kitchens, correctional services facilities and anyone who wants to grow fresh fruit and vegetables in their own homes.
Having learned much about Eastern Health during her co-operative education work term, Laura realizes that it is not a surprise that Enactus Memorial and Eastern Health share the common interest of promoting healthier eating and creating healthier communities. In fact, Laura fondly recalls an Enactus Memorial cooperative initiative which involved one of Eastern Health’s long-term care facilities – St. Patrick’s Mercy Home!
In 2016, the St. Patrick’s Mercy Home Foundation purchased and donated a Project SucSeed hydroponics system for the home with the goal to enhance the health and well-being of residents. The mission of the St. Patrick’s Mercy Home Foundation is to enrich and improve the lives of St. Pat’s residents, and to make the facility their home away from home. Donating the hydroponics system enabled residents to engage in gardening activities. Prior to this initiative, and perhaps due to the lack of mobility or gardening space, many of the residents may not have been able to participate in such activities.
Gardening, in any form, is nurturing and therapeutic – and with hydroponics, the benefits of gardening can be experienced all year long! The hydroponic systems produced by Project SucSeed come with everything that is required to grow fresh fruit and vegetables indoors for a year. The system includes nutrients which are mixed with water, along with an LED light which allows plants to flourish even during the cold winter months!
Project SucSeed is just one example that offers the residents of Eastern Health’s St. Patrick’s Mercy Home, and many communities across Canada, with more than just healthy food – it provides individuals with a healthy activity to improve their mental health and wellbeing!
Currently, Project SucSeed has over 13 cooperatives in operation where produce is grown and shared among community members to help increase access to fresh, affordable food. Profits from the hydroponic systems go back into supporting Project SucSeed, with the goal of combating food insecurity in northern regions and other isolated areas of Canada.
If you are like most people, you know that summer is a great time to eat healthier and to be a little bit more active. To learn more about incorporating more vegetables, fruit and physical activity in your life, please visit Eastern Health’s Healthy Living A to Z pages, which cover more than 100 health topics! ■
This story was written by Laura Collis, co-operative student, and Zelda Burt, communications manager and student mentor.