Our Community Champion Bonnie Madsen hosted her first local community event on Friday 23rd March to celebrate Neighbour Day! The gloomy weather didn’t stop Bonnie; as she set up tables and chairs at the local park in her street.
Bonnie joined the Neighbourhoods Connected Kwinana Action Team after the ‘Decide the Right Path’ Workshop in August 2017. Bonnie has attended every Action Team meeting and participated in the training facilitated by Street by Street; a national project building neighbourhood networks and turning streets into communities.
The Street by Street workshops provided participants with tips and hints on what type of event to host to encourage neighbours to attend, and how to approach new people. Bonnie invited her neighbours to the street party by door knocking and personally handing out invites. This face-to-face meeting helped establish the first point of contact and built rapport.
When asked how the Street by Street training helped Bonnie organise her event, she shared “firstly, it eliminated my fear of reaching out to the unknown neighbours and gave me a lot of confidence and support to be the first in my street to reach out and start something new. Knowing that others have been successful with such events, it gave me the boost I needed, to invite the immediate street community together”.
Bonnie’s first get-together was kindly supported by City of Kwinana’s Neighbour Day funding, to help with catering costs. The gathering was such a success, that the neighbours are keen to attend the next party and have plans to host a bring-a-plate picnic in six months’ time.
Bonnie says “The importance of knowing your neighbours really struck home since having kids. Being able to look out for one another is so important on a daily basis, as these are the closest people around in the case of an emergency”.
The aim of Neighbourhoods Connected is to encourage individuals to connect with their neighbours, and develop a greater feeling of safety and sense of community.
Research shows that social isolation and loneliness impacts heavily on mental and physical health. Studies also indicate that providing a safe, connected local environment for children and families increases their overall health and wellbeing.
Nicole Hunt, Kwinana Community Facilitator at Connecting Community for Kids believes “The communities in which children live are among the most important contexts for time spent outside of home and school. This makes neighbourhoods a key factor in the way children grow and develop.” There is strong evidence to suggest that the social, economic, cultural and environmental characteristics of neighbourhoods shape important, sometimes life-long foundations for childhood development.
Taking small steps, you can make an impact street by street. If you are interested in participating in the Connecting Community for Kids Initiative, joining an Action Team, or partaking in training, please contact us on 0429 904 324 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Community participation is vital to the success of the Initiative, with children and families at the heart of this project.