Bringing Outdoor Recreation Back to our Community, with Care
With the closure of the Expo Centre, where the Inner City Rec & Wellness Program has been working for the past several months to provide safe and accessible programming for our community, we are excited to be back out in the sun (and wind, and rain, and probably snow, soon enough), bringing back some summer and fall programming!
The sudden change brought on by the closure of Expo Centre created many challenges, yet presents some exciting opportunities for new beginnings for our team and our community. When choosing which programs to re-open, we have selected ones that bring healing, joy, physical activity, and emotional connection, and which can be launched in a safe and sustainable way. Unfortunately, this means that several of our sports programs, and those that take place in indoor communal spaces, cannot be re-launched at this time.
One of the first programs that we worked incredibly hard to find a way to open was our weekly trip to Lady Flower Gardens in northeast Edmonton. This amazing community development garden includes five acres of agricultural land and a 75 acre old-growth forest that nestles up against the North Saskatchewan River. Each week we are able to bring up to six people with us to harvest food for Edmonton’s Food Bank and for themselves, providing food security, connection to the land, and a much-needed reprieve from the city.
We are also working with Bike Edmonton to, once again, create Bike Repair Pop-Up events each month, where volunteers and staff from Bike Edmonton set up work stations to provide bike repairs and safety inspections for our community members. For many, a bike is the only way to get around the city, and they are often in need of repairs, lights, brake-tightenings, and other such things. This program also offers community members access to free parts and repairs once a week at the Bike Edmonton North location, through a membership card program.
We will continue to work towards creating these types of unique community initiatives – where ICRWP partners with other agencies and organizations to create much-needed support for those with barriers to access, bringing services and opportunities into the inner city, and meeting people where they are at. If you are part of an organization that provides recreational activities or wellness and cultural programs, and you would like to find a way to reach a population that rarely gets access to such things, please contact us.
This year, the Boyle Street Community Services building added a courtyard area. Activities can happen in a fenced-off area, and projects created by community members can be safely left outside throughout the year. This area includes tables, large chairs, a small garden, and opportunities for artwork creation. This year we are working to have weekly Art Time in the courtyard, where community members can paint, draw, sculpt, write poetry, and more! We will be bringing supplies and examples into the new space, and allowing anyone from the community to join in the creative process.
Street Prints Artist Collective has a new office space! We recently moved into a comfy little shared office space in McCauley Apartments with support from one of our partner agencies, e4c. We can print artwork, store our equipment and supplies, and have one-on-one meetings. It is also a quiet space for collective members to do administrative work. This community support for our artist collective is what makes community development possible. We see examples of this every day: agencies and organizations finding new ways to work together to share resources and spaces as we struggle to make our way through a changing landscape, and navigate new fiscal and political realities that face community-based organizations.