Group activities are a great way to learn and promote healthy habits while connecting with others, which is why the Lighthouse program in the community of Duck Bay was established. SherriAnn Thompson stepped into the role of program coordinator in 2020 with the goals of encouraging youth to make positive choices, preventing crime and substance use within the community. The program provides activities and resources for youth, including a drop-in center for after-school, evening, and weekend activities. It also organizes events involving the entire community, with SherriAnn saying, “We always try to include everyone.” The Lighthouse program relies on fundraising, donations, and grants to provide its free programming. It has partnered with several organizations, including Duck Bay Recreation, Right to Play, Northwest Metis Council, Duck Bay MMF local, SKO, WASAC, and many others. This year, a Healthy Together Now grant was also received, helping to fund several activities and initiatives.
SherriAnn was required to make many adaptations to the program this year due to the Public Health orders. She was resourceful, using creativity to ensure that community members still got the program’s benefits from their own homes. Lighthouse put together 96 care packages for the community’s youth; they included body wash, soap, sponges, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, combs, and feminine products. For the younger children, arts and crafts packages were put together that included scissors, glue sticks, craft paper, felt paper, markers, crayons and much more. Lighthouse also distributed free fruit packages to 56 households in the community to promote healthy eating. All of these packages were delivered “house to house, door to door,” explained SherriAnn, with the help of volunteers.
The Lighthouse program also does monthly activities, with food bingos being one of their most popular events. This program was maintained throughout COVID-19 with the help of a Facebook live stream. Each month, ten games of Bingo are played. Each winner receives a package of fruits or vegetables, allowing community members to participate in a fun activity while encouraging healthy eating. “The highest number that we’ve had for participants so far is 46 people,” said SherriAnn, which is a huge turnout for the small community. Another monthly activity is cooking classes, which were also adapted to be done at home; the ingredients and recipes are currently being delivered directly to households to try on their own. From time to time, Lighthouse also organizes online contests to get community members using their creativity. Some of the past contests include face mask decorating and lighthouse making.
To promote physical activity, the Lighthouse program normally organizes several sports, including basketball, volleyball, hockey, skating, and baseball. Duck Bay School generously lends their gym for many of these events. Due to indoor gathering restrictions, Lighthouse has instead been promoting physical activity outdoors. They recently brought a group of children swimming at their local beach; the children were taught about water safety, and Lighthouse provided each child with a life jacket. “I try to incorporate healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables,” said SherriAnn, to also promote healthy eating during these group activities.
Community members have been very involved in the program, with SherriAnn saying, “When we have events in our community, we have a lot of support. A lot of people come out.” Often she is asked about future events and has even received suggestions for possible activities. She can see the positive impact the program is making, with the rate of crime being very low in the youth population: “everybody’s benefiting from it … healthier lifestyles for everyone.” She is looking forward to more events being back in person with the easing of Public Health orders. To learn about future events, check out the ‘Duck Bay Lighthouse Program’ and ‘Duck Bay LH & HTN Monthly Free Food Bingo’ pages on Facebook.
Interested in receiving funding for a project focused on healthy eating, physical activity, mental well-being or tobacco prevention and reduction in your community? Visit Prairie Mountain Health’s ‘Healthy Together Now’ page for more information on eligibility and how to apply.