The Early Intervention Program at CMHA Windsor-Essex County Branch maximizes their community resources in order to offer engaging recreation activities that foster a sense of belonging. While working on their physical fitness, emotional wellbeing, social skills, and vocational goals, EPI clients at CMHA-WECB have had the opportunity to join in on a range of activities including “Mood Walks”, “Hoofin’ It” (a therapeutic walking program with horses), and weekly social drop-in groups.
Timing and a supportive network are keys to their success; planning in advance allows more time to encourage client participation, while supports within their organization and the wider community make it possible for them to continue offering new and exciting experiences. Within CMHA-WECB, the Fund Development and Community Engagement Department helps secure funding and develops promotional materials. Within the community, a partnership with Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) made it possible to launch their therapeutic walking group, “Hoofin’ It”, earlier this year.
Community truly is at the heart of CMHA-WECB EPI’s recreation approach. Held in collaboration with Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, a weekly “Café Connections” group includes check-in and sharing, formal and informal education sessions, games, cooking and meal-sharing. Participants have credited the Café with improvements to interpersonal skills, as well as their ability to be supportive and encouraging to peers working towards similar goals. Their “Mood Walks” program began in the summer of 2016, and has been beloved by clients as a way to connect with their peers, nature, and the occasional deer or other wildlife.
“Mood Walks have provided me the opportunity to socialize with a community of people and obtain some exercise while doing so. The event has allowed me to relieve some stress.” – Client
“Mood Walks means “getting out of the house”. I had the guts to go to the mall because I got used to going outside for Mood Walks with Cope (service dog) and the group; it gave me the courage to do it by myself. Mood Walks gave me the chance to get out in the community. It helped me train my service dog and provided good experience for us out in the community.” – Client
“Mood Walks was a great experience and helped me ease my mind. Being in nature and meeting new people help me explore my community.” – Client
For more information about this initiative, please contact:
Cynthia Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org