In the community of North Etobicoke, barbeques, and outdoor activities support resident engagement opportunities in the summer. As a community garden animator at MicroSkills Community Development Centre, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2667/ 77 Kipling Ave. Tenants’ Association community barbeque. The yearly tradition is made possible through the Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) initiative in supporting community development. Several community organizations such as the City of Toronto, Toronto Police Services, and the Health Kids Community Challenge Rexdale (HKCC Rexdale) contributed their time and resources in making the event a successful community engagement opportunity.

The HKCC Rexdale is managed by Tania Fernandes at the Rexdale Community Health Centre and supported by program workers such as Ayan Yusuf and Nesatara Downey. Based on the first theme of the HKCC, “Run. Jump. Play. Every Day.”, Ayan and the HKCC team organized a non-contact rugby match facilitated by the Toronto Inner-city Rugby Foundation for the community children – bringing together children from neighbouring high rises.

As a community garden animator, my primary goal was to connect the community with resources and with each other. This is excellent example of how the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986), (which I learned about in my nutrition studies) can be used as a guiding model to support the health and wellbeing for all. The community barbecue served as a place to “strengthen community action” through community consultation for a new playground and HKCC Rexdale Bright Idea collection. The residents of 2667/77 Kipling Avenue are working hard to leverage resources in the community to expand their current playground, so that more children from the community have a space to play and stay active. The HKCC Rexdale Team along with the support of Maisha from Turner Consulting Group, collected residents’ “Bright Ideas” for creating a healthier Rexdale for children. Maureen Campbell, Chair of Tenants’ Association, remarks that “ I am very pleased with the support we received from the community to organize the BBQ, it was great opportunity to celebrate our achievement and look forward to building a better neighbourhood for everyone.” Progress is currently underway with a new playground in sight for summer 2017 in promoting outdoor activity at 2667/ 77 Kipling Ave.

Prior to my summer job as a community garden animator, I was beginning to think children no longer came out to play like they used to, but this summer barbeque made it possible for kids who may not know each other but live in the same neighbourhood, to connect socially. The 2667/77 Community BBQ was featured in Snapd Etobicoke, displaying the food, fun and activities. Children and families were not only able to enjoy the activities and food but took the community messages back home to share. Find out more about exciting events and activities happening with HKCC Rexdale on Twitter @HKCCRexdale and Instagram @hkccrexdale

This blog post was written by Gurneet Dhami, a Community Garden Animator from MicroSkills Community Development Centre

http://opha.on.ca/Nutrition-Resource-Centre/News/Nutrition-Resource-Centre-Blog/December-2016/HKCC-Rexdale-Summer-2016-Story.aspx