Are you looking for a way to start a community improvement project but you’re not sure how to get started? You may be thinking that it’s too hard to find volunteers or get the money to back it up. Look no further. It may be easier than you think!
I was lucky enough to have a friend contact me about helping to coordinate the first annual Children’s Health and Wellness Festival. My friend was connected to the Starfire Council where the project began. Then it expanded to include citizens in the neighborhood, and it just so happened that the festival was taking place down the street from where I live!
The purpose of the festival was to teach children to respect the earth, as well as themselves, by eating healthy food and enjoying outdoor activities.
The volunteer committee met months before the festival began. One resident said she wanted to beautify the park in the neighborhood, other volunteers said they wanted to spread awareness about children’s health initiatives. It was the perfect storm as the projects were combined to take place at the Upper Millcrest Park.
The community project grew to include many organizations as the committee members have some local projects of their own. One neighborhood organization included Lydia’s House that gives safe, stable and supportive housing to women and children in transition and crisis.
Another organization involved was Woven Oaks Initiative where they provide small programs focused on education and mentorship. One of the programs offered by Woven Oaks is the children’s garden camp, which was included in the children’s festival. Kids learn about nature in their own backyard by preparing food that they planted in the garden.
Here the kids are seen planting popcorn in the community garden at the park during the festival.
The kids are preparing pasta with the fresh picked greens. It was exhilarating to see neighborhood kids wanting to help out in the garden. We also taught the kids about the value of food and how it should not be wasted by composting it to give nutrients to the soil.
The community garden is maintained by the neighbors that live near the park.
Here you can see the start of the project. The park also received new playground equipment donated by the Children’s Hospital and the restroom house was painted.
Another Woven Oaks program that participated in the Children’s Festival was the Rugby Football Club. One of the goals of this youth program is to give boys from all different backgrounds the opportunity to see that they can all work together as a team.
Get connected! When you surround yourself with others who want to make a difference, inspiring stories can be made! We reached out to our connectors in all different fields who we thought may be interested in our cause.
There were other fitness participants in the festival to give kids and adults alike the opportunity to have fun together.
The Norwood Health Department and the Children’s Hospital focused on child obesity and healthy initiatives. Our local library spread the word about their programs as well.
We also had a creative art spot on the grass.
The very talented salsa band Azucar Tumbao played in front of the newly painted facilities.
And a very skillful face painting artist was a hit!
We only had a budget of $200 dollars. This money went to healthy snack packs for the kids. We were amazed to find how many generous participants donated their time and talent to give back to the community.
Some creative and effective ideas to spread the word about your community event is to create a Facebook share button that includes a link to the event’s registration page. Create a unique hashtag for the event and share it across all social media outlets. Encourage others to use this hashtag as well.
Use your community event as a stepping stone for future collaborations. Hold a photo contest where attendees share their best photos of the event on social media and the invite page. Create a You Tube video of the event. Better yet, have a contest for the attendees to share their own videos of the event!
If you are trying to raise money, consider setting up a donation page online if individuals can’t make it to the event. You can even set up an online auction if you are holding a silent auction at your event. Bidding for Good is a great auction tool.
If you’re looking for a local project to participate in or need a platform to raise money, crowd-resourcing is gaining speed. Ioby, which stands for “in our backyards” is a startup platform that provides a place for people who want to take action to better their neighborhoods. Here, crowd-sourcing is combined with resource organizing that considers community organizers and activists to be our best resources.