Make an IMPACT with Connection – Volunteering
IMPACT encourages you to connect with yourself, your friends, your family, and your community. Each month there is a different way to make a connection, and for April, the focus is on volunteering!
Volunteering is any act of giving your time with the purpose of supporting and strengthening others’ quality of life or the overall community. In addition to the valuable contribution that volunteering makes to the community, it has also been proven to have many benefits for the individuals engaged in volunteering. These benefits include opportunities to learn new skills, expanded social contacts, reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, decreased feelings of isolation, and a sense of belonging to others and your community.
With busy day-to-day lives, finding the time to dedicate to volunteering can be difficult, but volunteering doesn’t always have to include grueling hours or a long-term commitment. Volunteering can be done in a variety of ways that suit your lifestyle, whether that is traditional methods of volunteering or more non-traditional methods. When you think of volunteering, you may not realize the extensive possibilities that can be included in this role. For example, volunteer your time by putting your crafting skills to the test and challenge yourself to create needed items such as winter items (mittens, toques, scarfs), blankets and stuffed animals to donate to local organizations and shelters. This is one way to volunteer in a non-exhaustive way while still greatly helping those in need (plus crafting can be great for improving your overall health and happiness!). If crafting isn’t your thing, perhaps you would want to try getting involved with local sports teams, a retirement home, or at the library.
While all methods of volunteering are beneficial, it’s important to choose the method that suits your lifestyle best. Before you pick what direction of volunteering you want to go, it can be helpful to spend some time discovering what causes matter most to you, what skills and experiences you have that you want to share, and what your level of commitment and availability are. The right volunteer role can help you find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. No matter how we choose to connect through volunteering, we can all reap the benefits. This April, we encourage you to go ahead and Make An IMPACT With Connection!
Make an IMPACT with Connection – Children connecting with children
IMPACT encourages you to connect with yourself, your friends, your family, and your community. Each month there is a different way to make a connection, and for May, the focus is on children connecting with children!
We are not meant to go through life alone. Healthy relationships and social connections are important to lifelong wellness and these interactions begin in childhood. As your child grows from a baby into a toddler and then into a teenager and finally an adult, their social networks will shift and change dramatically. Children learn by example so parents play an important role in the development of social connections.
When your child is a baby, healthy social interaction is all about attachment and bonding. Simple ways to bond can include singing, cuddling, soothing them when they cry, reading to them, eye contact, tummy time and so much more.
As your baby grows into a toddler, social connections are starting to be made outside of their primary caregivers and they start to interact with children their age through play. Toddlers will move from parallel play (beside each other without interacting), to cooperative play (small group with the same activity) to rough and tumble play (interaction, taking turns, following simple rules). In early childhood, your child will begin to identify one another as friends. Simple ways to encourage positive relationships can include setting up playdates, respecting your child’s personality and interests and modeling good friendship skills.
As your child grows into a teenager, they spend more time in their social environment. Positive friendships can provide teens with support, companionship, a sense of belonging and lay the groundwork for successful adult relationships. Simple ways to encourage positive connections can include reinforcing the values that are important to you and your family, teaching your teen the importance of being assertive when
necessary, giving your teen room to breathe, and listening first to understand their perspective.
There are various ways in our community to facilitate positive social connections for children. Family Resource Network, Wainwright Public Library, Wainwright on Wellness, Military Family Resource Network and PSP all provide great programming for babies right up through to teenagers. In addition, you can sign your child up to a sports team or have them join a club such as Brownies, Scouts, 4-H or Cadets. Even something as going to a park or campsite will allow children the opportunity to connect with other children. Close relationships are what keep people happy throughout their lives and these begin in childhood. This May, we encourage you to go ahead and Make an IMPACT With Connection!
Make an IMPACT with Connection – Nature
IMPACT encourages you to connect with yourself, your friends, your family, and your community. Each month there is a different way to make a connection, and for June, the focus is on nature!
Did you know as little as 10 minutes a day spent outdoors can have a benefit on your mental and physical health. In fact doctors across Canada are now prescribing nature to some of their patients. PaRx, Canada’s national nature prescription program. With the launch of PaRx in Alberta, the province’s health professionals can now formally prescribe nature to their patients.
Nature brings us to tap into our 5 senses with ease. A recent camping trip to Riverdale Mini Park, was just what the doctor ordered. I was immediately reaping the benefits of spending time outdoors, and realized I could not help but smile, breath, and admire the beauty of the landscape. I noticed the natural ways I tapped into my 5 senses including hearing the birds, the sounds of others enjoying the campground, the ping of a golf ball, and a times the pure enjoyment of stillness and quiet. Seeing the variety of birds, including a momma owl and her 3 babies, perched in trees, the flowing river, and the rolling hills in the river valley on the golf course. The left-over leaves from the fall, and the new growth of spring all bring joy to each season. The feeling of the air in your hair, while out walking, eating outdoors, with the dirt beneath your feet, and the warmth of the sun, brings a sense of grounding and appreciation deep into the soul. The smells first thing in the morning of fresh dew, with a hint of smoke due to the unfortunate forest fires burning out of control, but a part of nature we are aware of both the devastation they cause, but also the new growth it brings. The smell of cooking outdoors and the aroma of bar-b-q’s, and tasty food cooking brings out so much flavor to our tastebuds when enjoying eating outside.
After reflecting on our fist camping trip of the year I would have to agree with the research that is showing the benefits of connecting with nature or simply being outside. According to the McMaster University 7 benefits of spending time in nature are:
1. Increased feeling of calmness
2. Increased endorphin levels and dopamine production (promotes happiness)
3. Restored capacity for concentration and attention
4. Reduced Symptoms of anxiety and depression
5. Reduced irritability
6. Lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol(stress hormone)
7. Reduced Feelings of anxiety
In summary whether you are out camping, spending time in your back yard, or just walking around your block, nature has something to offer. Wainwright & MD have a wealth of green spaces, walking paths, trails, parks, and campgrounds to explore. Challenge yourself to do a pre and post check in before heading outdoors and after you return to see how you are feeling most likely it will be on the positive side. Enjoy the great outdoors.