The Ucluelet Community Centre is closed, but the town’s recreation team is working on online programming to keep residents active and connected. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Tofino and Ucluelet keeping residents active and connected while social distancing

“A lot of this is about togetherness, but it’s also maintaining frameworks.”

Tofino and Ucluelet’s recreation teams are working to ensure social distancing does not create social isolation on the West Coast.

“Everything we are doing now goes to supporting healthy communities with the parameters that have been set out for the COVID virus,” Ucluelet’s manager of parks and recreation Abby Fortune told the Westerly News via email. “We are going online. We are in the process of working with our instructors to create online programming.”

She said Ucluelet is reaching out to residents through the district’s Ukee Recreation Recreated Facebook page as well as through Instagram, Youtube and its website, www.ucluelet.ca.

“For physical and mental well-being, it is important for everyone to stay engaged and connected. In these times, that does take on a whole new meaning. We are working hard to support our communities and provide ways of doing just that,” she said. “Now more than ever, connection and activity are important—through our platforms, you can find physical challenges, wellbeing challenges, fitness tips, fun resources and online videos from our instructors. We are also working on an education page as well as highlighting local community groups.”

She added the district is reaching out for feedback from residents and encourages anyone with programming ideas or fun challenges to share to reach out to recreation@ucluelet.ca.

The district announced a pursuit of remote recreation opportunities in a bulletin to the community last week, promising to help keep residents “active and healthy throughout the duration of this time.”

“We want these new platforms to be as interactive as possible so we can all encourage one another to stay active and be healthy. We want to hear how you’re staying active and happy, we want to see how you’re challenging your neighbours and we want to see you thrive,” the bulletin reads.

Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers told the Westerly that Tofino is following Ucluelet’s lead.

“They’re leading the way in terms of online programming on the West Coast and they’ve generously shared some of the stuff they’ve been doing and we’re working with them,” he said.

Tofino is also reaching out through its Tofino Parks and Recreation Facebook page and Instagram account and is asking residents to send ideas for online programming to recreation@tofino.ca.

Rodgers said it’s important for his recreation team to stay visible in the community and that means boosting their online presence for isolating locals and he added that the district is also offering strategies and activities for parents trying to keep their kids active, engaged and healthily distracted from becoming over-anxious about the pandemic.

He said the district is also trying to map out its summer programming, considering that social distancing measures might still be in place, but parents may be heading back to work and needing activities for their kids to participate in.

“Our spring programming kind of got upended, but we still have summer programs and the trick for us is to try to figure out what that looks like if we’re still having physical distancing restrictions,” he said. “There’s lots of things we’re trying to do and it’s new for a lot of people, but if you look around the province, a lot of different communities are doing very similar things and I think a lot of people are looking at two to three months out for summertime and what that might mean.”

He added that while recreation is being recreated, some of the people being hit hard by the new normal are the facilitators the district depends on to teach classes.

“We’re trying to keep the whole system running and making sure our contractors, if and when we can, are getting paid to do the work that they do,” he said. “A lot of this is about togetherness, but it’s also maintaining frameworks. A lot of people being really affected by this are people who have been independent contractors who offer gymnastics, choir, martial arts and seniors programs. Not only does the lack of recreation affect our clients, it also affects the people that provide it, so we have those people in mind too and are trying to find ways we can help out where we can and maintain that structure.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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