Councillor Mary Fragedakis is a life-long resident of Danforth-East York and has served as a City Councillor for Ward 29 since 2010, spanning the area north of the Danforth from Bayview Ave to Coxwell.
In her role as City Councillor, she has been a strong voice for fostering healthier, more inclusive communities that support both the physical and mental wellbeing of constituents. The Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC) works to do just that, and we have benefited greatly from having the support and shared vision of Councillor Fragedakis.
Councillor Fragedakis believes that living a healthy lifestyle is multifaceted. People must feel a connection to their community, and be socially active as well. Mental and social health are just as important to one’s overall sense of well-being as physical health, and Councillor Fragedakis believes that “having a healthy, active lifestyle means you take care of your mind as well as your body.”
Danforth-East York is an incredibly diverse community, with a large population of newcomers. In March of 2016, HKCC Danforth-East York conducted a Community Needs Assessment to evaluate existing resources and potential areas of improvement. It was found that although there are many assets within the community like food markets, physical activity programming and community gardens, these assets are not consistently accessible across neighbourhoods.
Danforth-East York faces further challenges when it comes to recreation, as it does not have the same access to green space and large recreation facilities as in other areas of the city. Community fairs and events provide opportunities to engage with community members about on-going programs and services, but accessing the space can be a barrier.
Councillor Fragedakis has been an advocate for increasing access to youth sports leagues by fighting for more affordable recreation programs to ensure that people of all income levels have the same opportunities to participate. As a result of her efforts, there has been an increase in enrollment at local sports programs and camps.
Councillor Fragedakis takes a comprehensive approach to improving health, looking at ways to increase activity at every stage of life. In the winter, she hosts an annual skating party that brings together families in the community to spend time playing outdoors. Involving the whole family is important for initiating and sustaining healthy behaviour changes. In order for kids to learn and take on these behaviours, they need to see healthy living practices modeled at home and in their families. Providing opportunities for the whole family to participate in healthy living activities is vital.
Among the challenges identified in the Community Needs Assessment, access to and awareness of healthy food programming was an area in need of improvement. To increase the community’s access to affordable healthy food, more community and school gardens, community kitchens and food markets are needed.
Local food initiatives are high on Councillor Fragedakis’ radar. When asked why this is a priority, she explained that she has seen a significant need for food banks firsthand, and that some in the community are concerned about consistently putting food on the table. To help tackle these issues, she worked with a school in East York to build a community garden that donates the produce to a local food bank. This innovative collaboration is beneficial in that it works to educate kids about growing food and about the importance of giving back to the community.
Food access is an issue that the HKCC will focus on in the upcoming theme of boosting veggies & fruit starting on April 1, 2017. We are excited to work on new programs and partnerships to increase awareness of healthy eating, and improving access to existing programs and resources.
HKCC Danforth-East York would like to thank Councillor Fragedakis for her commitment to making our community a healthier, more inclusive space and for her support of our work as a Community Champion!
Scott, Fiona; Laing, Andrea & Sayani, Shahina. “Needs Assessment and Asset Mapping of Danforth-East York.” Healthy Kids Community Challenge East York, http://healthykidstoronto.com/eastyork/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/CNA-and-Asset-Mapping-Final.pdf. Accessed 20 January 2017.
Fragedakis, Mary. “Re: Community Champion.” Received by Kaley Fitzsimmons, 12 Jan, 2017.
This post was originally published on Danforth-East York here