Fort McKay Wellness Center creates a sense of commUNITY

The Fort McKay Wellness Center continues to adapt to create a sense of commUNITY throughout the past year. There have been several switch-backs between virtual programming and in-person programming to meet the needs of community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the return of in-person programming in fall 2020, we were able to create meaningful recreation experiences for children, youth and community members. After a 6 month closure of our facility in 2020, we started our return to in-person programming with our Outdoor Girls at Bat Program. Through our partnership with the Jays Care Foundation, the Girls at Bat program provided an introduction to baseball for girls in the community, while providing an opportunity to build and gain confidence, create meaningful relationships, make new friends and create a love of sport! As the first in-person recreation program permitted in the community since the pandemic began, we were under the spotlight as we adapted the program to include physical distancing, extensive cleaning and sanitation and the elimination of sharing equipment. Many other communities in the region and other organizations came to us to follow the program and our successes as they returned to their own in-person programs. Our success with the outdoor Girls at Bat Program lead into the re-opening of our After School Program which was extremely successful, even with reduced capacity, and created a safe atmosphere for children and youth in the community to enjoy recreation.

Moving into late fall, we had to cancel all our in-person programs and return to virtual programming as COVID numbers rose across the province. We swiftly returned to virtual programming 5 nights a week in December 2020 with activities for all community members. Virtual programs included kit deliveries which included all the supplies needed to reduce any barriers and to ensure EVERYONE was able to participate if they wanted.

Our most popular and successful program was our Virtual Young Chef’s Program. This program ran on Wednesdays and taught participants the importance of healthy eating, active living, food safety and how to cook and bake. Each week, participants received a kit with all the ingredients required to complete the evening program delivered right to their door. The program created an opportunity for families to bond while creating something delicious they all could enjoy. After 4 sessions, each participant received a “Young Chef’s Kit” which included essential tools for the kitchen like mixing bowls, mixing spoons, measuring cups, a grater, cutting board and so much more. We had 21 families consistently participate.

At the end of the virtual Young Chef’s Program in June, we created a Young Chef’s Cookbook for all participants which included all the recipes. Each recipe included ACTUAL photos of the Young Chef’s creating the dish along with their finished products. Every participant received their very own cookbook to cherish the memories of the program!

The community has proven over and over how resilient and adaptive we are to ensure every individual has the opportunity to live a healthy, active lifestyle!