North Island connections
Jay Townsend, the “community connector” for the North Island Connector Project (NICP), is clearly passionate about the work he’s done over the last year to connect self advocates with generic services in Campbell River.
“This project has a true person-centred focus because it is led by the participant’s interests and skills,” says Jay. “It’s given me the chance to be incredibly responsive to a person’s needs, and to develop a rapport and trust with them so we can connect their gifts within the community.”
The NICP is an initiative that focused on providing people eligible for CLBC supports with the chance to explore and connect in meaningful ways with resources in the Campbell River area. Eight individuals – four men and four women – were involved in the project from April 2010 to January 2011. The participants were identified by the CLBC facilitator involved in the project, Caroline Sanderson. Participants ranged in age from 19 to 54, and they had interests as diverse as volunteering at a local food program to playing pool. Activities participants were involved in were determined by them; Jay provided support in connecting them to their interests.
One of the participants, Doris, is an outgoing, sociable and independent person. She is fairly new to the Campbell River area, and at the onset knew she wanted to connect to volunteering and social activities. However, Doris’s home share is outside of the Campbell River city limits, and many of the activities she wanted to be involved in were downtown. Jay helped her learn how to navigate the transit system, and also helped her get a BC ID card needed to access volunteer opportunities. Doris is now connected with knitting and fitness groups at a 50+ group at the local recreation centre, and is volunteering at the Lighthouse, a local resource that feeds Campbell River’s vulnerable population.
“Doris was at the helm of all the activities we did together,” says Jay. “Once I had introduced Doris to a group or setting, she took those opportunities and made them her own. She is now in town five days a week at activities.”
“NICP really allowed Doris to explore her strengths,” says Caroline. “The community has truly benefited because Doris is now involved with community in a way that enables her to give back.”
A younger participant, Matt, wanted to focus on making connections around his interests, which include golf, pool and music. Jay and Matt started to attend a weekly 9-ball tournament at Oceanview Billiards, and also spent time at the Storey Creek Golf Course. Out of these events came opportunities for Matt to play his first 9-hole round of golf with people outside of his family, and to build a relationship with the pool hall owners who have now offered to pick him up weekly so he can continue to play pool.
“I think this project has been beneficial for everyone involved – individuals, CLBC and the community,” says Jay. “The participants gained connections, CLBC gained a greater understanding of what engagement can look like, and the community learned more about diversity.”
The last stage of the project is focused on training based on the knowledge gained through the project. Jay is conducting Building Bridges sessions with service providers, home share providers and caregivers in the Central and Upper Island in February and March. To find out more, or to register for a session, contact Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.