Grants help local groups

Seniors, youths, and the library benefit from Northern Health grants.

The Partnership for Healthier Communities grant program from Northern Health, which recently assisted the Fort St. James Public library purchase new material pertaining to fitness, health, and wellness, has benefited several other local groups.

The Stuart Lake Seniors’ Association received $1,500, and will be purchasing a frost-free fridge, which will enable them to serve healthy meals to seniors. They hope to start the program in September, and believe it will result in increased turnout by area seniors, and in turn to an increase in social opportunities.

The Seniors Helping Seniors program, which provides transportation for seniors needing medical services in Vanderhoof and Prince George, received $3,000, which will enable them to expand their service to neighbouring communities and provide even more transportation for seniors in the region.

The SONAR youth group received $4,500, allowing them to provide support for youth involvement in discussions around mental health and vulnerability. The group was also able to purchase Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lights for Fort St. James Senior Secondary and the Public Library, and two helmet cameras so that youth can make active videos. Ten students have already taken advantage of the cameras to make recreation-related videos.

Murray Ridge received $3,000 in order to provide a terrain park at the ski hill, to encourage youth to participate in outdoor recreation activities. The cost of the terrain park was $10,000, and Murray Ridge was able to use the Partnership for Healthier Communities grant to leverage other funds in order to reach their goal and build the park.

The Fort St. James Building Healthier Communities Society vetted all applications and awarded the funding, and provided administrative support to the organizations that received funds. While the implementation of some programs has been slower than anticipated, the overall effect of the grant funding has been positive. The grants have enabled several valuable initiatives to get started within the community; something especially important in northern communities, which face unique challenges in areas such as mental health, youth concerns, healthy seniors, and seniors’ access to healthcare services.

Barbara Roden