Club Wellness Niagara Founder & Recreation Therapist, Christina Milloy (she/her), began developing the idea of providing wellness supports and programming in 2016. After returning to school to study Recreation Therapy at Niagara College, she saw the impact recreation has on people, but also the absence of it in parts of the community.
The vision of creating a travelling recreation program throughout Niagara began early in her schooling journey. She realized that there are places and people in need of social connection, community belonging, loneliness relief, sense of purpose and life enjoyment, but may not have access to this much needed support.
Belonging, Purpose, Connection
After over 10 years of working in community, residential and education settings with a variety of individuals, a pilot project conducting needs assessments within various communities sparked Club Wellness Niagara. While working at Niagara College, what was thought to only be a three month project turned into a program providing wellness support to individuals experiencing poverty, living with mental illness and/or substance use and disconnection from the community.
During the very first meeting with community members at the beginning of the project, it was obvious how much people wanted to connect with each other, but had reservations because of incidents occurring in their community. Concerns about their safety and illegal activity had the individuals living there fearful to open up and be vulnerable with their fellow peers. This community had so much to offer one another, and they just needed some support in doing that. After months of building programming, rapport and connection, the folks living there were able to create safe spaces for themselves and bring their community together. This place is full of kind-hearted and loving people who needed to know that they matter and are cared about. The smallest act of kindness went such a long way there. Club Wellness Niagara is still involved in this community today, and we are so grateful that this was the beginning of our journey!
Along with building community development programming, the idea of providing meaningful and creative opportunities for students helped to shape Club Wellness Niagara. Christina believed that by building a foundation that had mutual benefits for students, members and organizations, there would be positive impacts. She was also driven by her passion in creating new and diverse experiences to empower students and community members.
With the success of that programming model, Club Wellness Niagara has expanded into multiple communities focusing on improving wellness and quality of life for folks living in the Niagara Region. By addressing needs in communities, among people and organizations, Club Wellness Niagara hopes to share the recreation and wellness love, while creating connection, belonging and purpose. The story of Club Wellness Niagara began with a vision, but continues with the dedication, ambition and reality of impacting and changing lives.
Remember: you are never alone with us.
Peace & love,