Eva Rothwell Resource Centre at Robert Land - Access to Recreation for Low-Income Families
Organization Sponsor: Robert Land Community Association (RLCA)
To reduce barriers to inclusion felt by the residents of the Keith neighbourhood by providing social, recreational, educational and nutritional programming at the Eva Rothwell Resource Centre for little or no cost.
The closure of the Robert Land School in 2004 created a void for many residents who relied on the social services and other programming offered at the school. Without a focal point for the community, the neighbourhood became fragmented and social interaction nearly ceased to exist. Community agencies lost programming space due to the closure of the school.
In keeping with the goals outlined by The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the Robert Land Community Association is developing programs and supports that help reduce poverty, and focus on educational and nutritional services that will eliminate the most immediate difficulties facing children and youth in this area.
The Centre provides children, youth, families and seniors with access to recreation and other community programs that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Two recent recreation programs were of tremendous value to the children and youth involved.
The first involved a group of youth who were able to experience playing flag football in two professional football venues – the Ivor Wynne (Hamilton) and Ralph Wilson (Buffalo) stadiums. This group of youth benefited not only from participating in an organized team sport for the first time, but also from the experience of visiting the United States for the first time.
The second initiative, a T-Ball tournament, not only benefited the 50 children involved but also the 30 parents and families that came together to help organize key activities. This program brings families together, as these parents would not have otherwise been involved in their children’s recreational activities.
Initiated by a substantial private donation, funding for the ERRC has been obtained through a number of sources. The private donation helped secure support through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Hamilton Futures Fund and the Hamilton Community Foundatio
The Eva Rothwell Resource Centre provides health, education and recreation services to the community for little or no cost through partnerships with service providers, funding organizations, and the education system.
Two full-time staff were secured in March of 2007 and the Centre now has two full-time staff, two permanent part-time staff and over 80 regular volunteers.
Approximately 1,500 access the Centre each month and the majority (80%) are repeat users. The Centre focuses on reaching Keith neighbourhood residents, but is open to anyone wishing to access services. A newly implemented computerized registration system helps staff and volunteers track facility users and their specific needs.
• A needs survey and a suggestion box to identify program suggestions.
• Community "town hall" meetings are held three times a year. The first session, 'Facilitators Without Borders' in November, was a great success.
• A newly formed Youth Committee represents the needs and concerns of those aged 13 to 21.
• A Community Advisory Committee communicates information from the
residents to the Board.
To quote Liz Weaver of The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction: "[The Eva Rothwell Resource Centre] will also serve as a blueprint for collaborative, grassroots efforts to reduce and prevent poverty across Hamilton...This initiative is helping to make a North Hamilton neighbourhood a better place for children, teens and their families."
Best practices are shared with many of the partners, however, the Centre seeks to create the most innovative approach to each barrier. By focusing on poverty prevention and partnership building, the importance of community-led strategies that build on the strengths and assets of local people and remove barriers to inclusion are emphasized.
The Eva Rothwell Resource Centre strives to remove a number of key barriers from the lives of the families they serve: access to quality education and childcare, affordable housing, transportation, secure income, access to recreation, and opportunities to participate in civic life.
This program is promoted through:
• Brochures listing activities – quarterly, delivery to neighbourhood homes;
• Posters and signage within the facility promoting future activities;
• Website – attractive and informative, but challenging to keep up to date;
• Facebook – more specific to individuals already involved;
• E-mail – information update reports sent out quarterly;
• Local newspapers and community newsletters;
• Ongoing public speaking engagements by the President of the Board of Directors and staff;
• Weekly tours where best practices and experiences are shared; and
• External signage.
The Robert Land School was purchased in October 2006 by the Robert Land Community Association and re-named the Eva Rothwell Resource Centre at Robert Land.