“It’s so much fun!” We lost count of the number of times we heard Meagan say this during our interview after five. (You actually hear the exclamation mark.) She is both joyous and joyful, patient and understanding, and eager to learn about others and their stories. She is currently co-coordinator of the Chetwynd community response network (CRN) and coordinator of the Chetwynd Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP). A former competitive athlete-turned-exercise instructor and Certified Functional Aging Specialist, Meagan is also a known presence in the Chetwynd community for fitness classes: her exercise classroom is known as “the torture chamber” and she has been accused of “making people sweat” more than they want.
We are very pleased to introduce you to Meagan Reid-Wolfe, our outstanding volunteer for February.
Migration from Ontario to BC
Meagan grew up in Toronto, Ontario where she studied physical education and athletics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Athletics has always been a part of Meagan’s life. “Track and field is my thing, my jam!” she says. “I pushed myself hard and was very competitive. I still am!”
An injury, a third-degree ankle sprain, sidelined any competitive sporting career she hoped to have.
Meagan also met her husband Ken in school. In her final year, the couple married, and the newlyweds moved to Mackenzie, BC for Ken’s work. (He works in the forestry industry.) Proud parents of two daughters, the family relocated two more times – once to 100 Mile House, and a second time to 108 Mile House. Ken’s job promotion moved the family once more to Chetwynd, where they currently reside.
Sharing Her Love of Athletics with Mature Adults
As a Certified Functional Aging Specialist, Meagan is a certified trainer who is qualified to evaluate older people – adults ages 55+ – who have chronic health issues and design exercise programs for their specific needs.
“As people age, a lot of the time, they stop physical activities,” she explains. “Knees start hurting and it becomes harder to bend down to pick up groceries or to put on shoes. Or the lack of shoulder flexibility makes it hard to put on a jacket, for example. The goal is to keep mature adults flexible and functional to maintain quality of life.”
Her affinity working with the mature population came from her mom. “My mom has been a huge influence in life. She had all sorts of health issues and I always wanted to find ways to help her. I owe a lot of what I do now to her.”
And she is having a ball with it. “It’s a lot of work to design a class,” she says. “At the local seniors’ home, all the exercises we do are chair-based. At the rec centre, it’s almost all standing. The music has to be right to set the mood, and keep people engaged and happy. Every once in a while, I introduce them to Ariana Grande or another musician from the last ten years or so, just to keep things interesting! It’s so fun to see everyone dance and laugh. Even when people complain, they keep coming back!”
Meagan holds exercise classes five days a week at the local rec centre. (Each class is limited to 10 participants to allow five meters of distance between each person, and masks are mandatory.) She also does all of this on a volunteer basis.
“Mondays is aerobics; Wednesdays, it’s weights and stretches; Fridays, we dance! On Tuesdays and Thursdays are spin classes for more able-bodied participants,” she says. “When participants come back and tell me they no longer hurt, or they can walk up the stairs without assistance, that right there is the icing on the cake. That, for me, is wonderful!”
Exercising Minds through Literacy
Meagan is also the coordinator of the Chetwynd Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), which is a co-host agency to the Chetwynd CRN. She first learned about the BC CRN shortly after moving to Chetwynd when she met CRN volunteer Julie Shaw.
Meagan took on the CRN co-coordinator role three years ago. “I shadowed Julie to learn more about the CRN, how things are, and how things work,” she explains. “Then, I got the opportunity to attend the CRN conference in 2019 – it was so much fun!”
In January, Meagan launched the first annual Virtual Literacy Week for the community, offering opportunities for seniors and youth to learn more about financial literacy, media literacy, budgeting, and resume writing. The weeklong online campaign was endorsed by Chetwynd’s mayor, who also signed a proclamation to mark the event.
Since that success, Meagan has launched a book club: “We’re currently reading The Life of Pi. Recently, after an afternoon of snowshoeing and hot chocolate, we had a tailgate party to discuss our first book!”. She is also working on twice-weekly digital literacy workshops for March where seniors can receive one-on-one help with their mobile devices.
“In these workshops, seniors will have a chance to learn how to use their cell phone, laptop, or whatever mobile device they have,” says Meagan. “We can also go through how to make emergency calls, how to use a touchpad, how to use apps like Google Mail and Skype.” Currently, all spots for these workshops are full, and anyone interested may be placed on a waiting list.
“I’m at CALP four days a week from Mondays through to Thursdays,” she adds. “In the afternoons, people see me again at one of my fitness classes!”
BC CRN’s Mandate is Part of Everything She Does
Meagan holding multiple roles in the community – literacy coordinator, CRN co-coordinator, and fitness instructor – puts her in a very unique position when it comes to her work with Chetwynd’s mature population base. In her CRN co-coordinator role, she is able to provide targeted information on local support services to those who need them. In her role as a fitness instructor, she is part of the coordinated response to any suspected abuse or neglect.
“I see the same faces every day through the exercise classes,” Meagan explains. “Because of the pandemic, I have a core group of clients. I see the same people anywhere from three to five days a week. I get to know each person, and they get to know me. There is a lot of trust. We can talk in confidence. Our conversations reveal a lot. There were two instances where I did need to engage the RCMP’s Crisis Intervention to address some abuse issues.”
“BC CRN and CRN work are a part of everything I do for our seniors’ mental and physical health,” she continues. “If I can use exercise, workshops, book clubs, or anything else like that to boost the serotonin levels in someone, I’m all about that. Just because someone is older, or has a chronic illness, doesn’t mean they ought to be sidelined. You are still able to learn and try something new. You are still a functional, physical and spiritual person.
“To see people healthy, whole, and happy…that’s a part of my heart. And I want to continue helping as much as I can and give back to the community as much as I can in the best way that I can.”
For more information on CALP or any of Meagan’s exercise classes, please contact her at Northern Lights College at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of an exceptional CRN volunteer in your community you think we should profile in an upcoming edition, please email us at email@example.com or direct message us on our Facebook or Twitter.
 Meagan co-coordinates the Chetwynd CRN with Melyssa Reyland of the Chetwynd Housing Society.