BC Association of Community Response Networks

Building a Village to Connect a City’s People

An intergenerational arts and crafts project safely brought families, children, and seniors together and reinvigorated connections and relationships during the pandemic.

The community’s children and families painted wooden birdhouses. (Photo: M. Doll)

The community of Kamloops, BC has quite literally built a village, which will be on display in different parts of the city. “I think we cleared out every local craft store of wooden birdhouses,” laughs Maureen Doll, coordinator of the Kamloops Community Response Network (CRN).

Before the pandemic, Maureen and her team at the Kamloops Community YMCA/YWCA ran the local Parent Child Mother Goose Program®, an ongoing intergenerational program where staff, and local families and their children visit seniors in care homes to sing songs and rhymes, and tell stories. “Mother Goose is a back-to-basics type of program that has become very popular in our area,” says Maureen. “It’s wonderful to see residents participate in a song or a story from their childhood. The program brings a lot of joy to everyone involved.”

In addition to Mother Goose, the team also held community events to supplement the program.

Once the pandemic reached BC, Mother Goose was the first program to shut down. “It was a huge loss for the community,” she says. “We all missed it a lot: going to the care homes, meeting and connecting with seniors.”

The idea to build a village came from a staff meeting back in December. “We were talking about how we needed to find a way to bring people back together while being mindful of safety. We also knew that doing anything electronic, like a virtual Mother Goose wasn’t going to be effective with our seniors,” Maureen explains. “Arts and crafts

Kits were delivered throughout the community. (Photo: M. Doll)

were something we could do safely and the idea of a village resonated with all of us. We wanted to build something big.”

The team assembled over 100 wooden “village kits” that seniors, children and their families, and childcare providers along with the children in their care could paint, and then put on display throughout the city. The kits were made possible by funding provided by Kamloops Interior Savings Credit Union.

By chance, Maureen was also in conversation with Marian Anderberg, BC CRN Regional Mentor – Thompson, Cariboo, Shuswap and the idea of providing postcards to accompany the kits came about. “We were just brainstorming ideas on how we could connect people safely. Thanks to funding from BC CRN, we were able to produce some beautiful postcards. We included postage and CRN branded pens so families could write a note or draw a picture that could be sent to the seniors as a way to show they were thinking about them,” adds Maureen.

The postcards themselves featured the purple iris flower, a symbol of adult abuse awareness…and they were a hit! “The requests for postcards just kept coming,” she says. “People wanted to send them to people across the country. The response was unexpected and uplifting.”

Over 500 postcards were delivered to families and childcare sites. “The postcards really helped the village project blow up,” she adds. “A postcard is so simple of an idea. And, the fact that people were sending them all over the country meant adult abuse awareness went beyond BC, which is really cool.

“The entire project was a true collaboration between the Kamloops Community YMCA/YWCA, Interior Savings, and BC CRN. It showcases how businesses and non-profit can work together to make communities a great place to be. I have also heard back from several of the senior care homes already, who say how much the village kits and the postcards have uplifted seniors and staff alike.”

Postcards were mailed all over Canada. (Photo: M. Doll)

For more photos, check out this month’s “CRNs at Work”.

View the article on this project as it appeared in Kamloops This Week, a local newspaper.

To learn more about the Kamloops CRN or to get involved, please contact Maureen at kamloopscrn@gmail.com or Regional Mentor Marian Anderberg at marian.anderberg@bccrns.ca.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn: @debbiechowabc.