As communities change and grow, Working Women Community Centre works closely with clients to ensure that we provide responsive, culturally-sensitive and effective programs and services. Our Community Development programs are key to healthy, engaged and successful communities.
We are committed to providing opportunities for newcomers and immigrants to become more involved in their neighbourhoods and communities, and build on their existing skills, assets and ideas to develop their leadership skills. We do this community development work through a range of self-run groups, leadership training, peer-led trainings, and volunteer development opportunities.
These are the projects and initiatives that fall under our Community Engagement and Leadership Development Program:
Active Communities in Toronto Increasing Opportunities for Newcomers (ACTION)
ACTION brings portable physical and fun activities into programs that are used by newcomers, augmented with practical health information. The goal is to address inactivity due to lack of resources, time or ability. By bringing activity and information on how to access public resources (i.e. Community Centres) on-site, newcomers, new moms and seniors get the benefits of regular physical activity, and valuable resources for stress release and freedom from isolation. This program has worked with volunteers to develop self run yoga groups, dance classes and a Muslim women swimming club.
Cliffwood Seniors Leadership Project
This project funded by New Horizons for Seniors (HRSDC) engages and builds leadership with tenants living in Cliffwood Manor a subsidized senior housing complex. The objectives of the project are to engage multicultural seniors living on fixed incomes and build their skills and capacities to become community leaders, to reduce social isolation, to promote inter-generational interactions and promote voluntarism.
Community Support and Women’s Leadership
The program builds capacity in the newcomer community with targeted support to the Spanish speaking community, increasing civic participation, strengthening community support networks and increasing community resiliency. Activities include one-on-one support, weekly information sessions, community group and coalition building, facilitation of access to other services, leadership training, particularly using the ambassador training model and outreach.
Cook It UP
Cook It Up, funded by Toronto Community Housing’s Social Investment Fund, works with women and their families in Sparroways neighbourhood by using cooking and food preparation as an engagement mechanism to encourage women to make positive changes and decisions in their lives. Outcomes include participants taking on leadership roles in the program, becoming involved in other opportunities such as shopping, menu planning, joining other programs, volunteering, and conducting outreach.
Peanut Multi-Cultural Garden
The Peanut Community Garden is a community development project that engages local newcomer and immigrant residents of the Don Mills and Sheppard area in gardening activities. There are 106 plots available for use. Each gardener (and their family members) is allocated a different plot each year and provided with supports to plant, maintain and harvest organic produce. In addition, the garden project supports community meetings, potlucks, gatherings, training and program evaluation as a vehicle for community development. This project is run in partnership with Advent Lutheran Church.
Seniors in Cyber Space
Seniors in Cyberspace is a program designed by the Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships of Toronto, and focuses on matching high school youth with a senior wishing to learn computer applications and simple use.
Working Women Community Centre partnered with TIGP to deliver the program in the Don Mills/Sheppard /Peanut Town community and more recently in 2008 in the Jane Finch community. Our Don Mill/Peanut Town program runs once a week- with 20 youth and 20 seniors. In our Jane Finch Community program we partner with Seneca College’s Yorkgate Campus who provides two full computer labs with 20 computers, and Black Creek Community Health Centre works with WWCC staff to recruit youth and seniors.
The program brings youth and elderly together in a warm and friendly environment. To date over 100 elders have participate with equal amounts of students. The program is also run in Mandarin and Farsi for those elders who have not mastered the English language.
We work actively with our clients to encourage and support them to become more civically engaged. Through volunteering and participating in community development activities, newcomers and immigrants improve language skills, develop leadership capacity, breakdown social isolation and volunteer in their communities. The program does this by developing and coordinating volunteer opportunities,
developingpeer led programming, catalysing new initiatives, providing and coordinating leadership training, strengthen WWCC participation in networks and collaboration, and developing innovative new partnerships. It also provides backed in supports to our other programs through volunteer coordination, leveraging resources, and integrated community development principles in to programs.
Some of the key activities are: computer club, conversation club, public education,
bellydancing, yoga, pilates, caligraphy, Chinese choir, and a community kitchen.