FORT ASSINIBOINE – Woodlands County is seeking input from its residents about what kind of challenges are impacting their health and wellbeing, as well as possible solutions to those challenges, via an online survey and a series of focus groups in late November or early December.
This “social needs assessment” is actually being conducted by a firm called HelpSeeker Technologies, which has conducted similar assessments in conjunction with other municipalities throughout Alberta.
“We really commend Woodlands County for the approach they’re taking. Often, we see this sort of planning doesn’t happen until communities are of the larger population size,” said Jillian Mah, manager of community success at HelpSeeker Technologies.
As noted earlier, the assessment consists of an online survey which can be accessed through the county’s website which anyone can participate in, though the county would particularly like to hear from youth and are holding a draw to win a $20 VISA gift card for those participants.
There will also be two seniors focus groups from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. hosted at the Blue Ridge Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 30 and the Fort Assiniboine Legion on Thursday, Dec. 1, as well as an Indigenous focus group from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Whitecourt Forest Interpretive Centre.
Each of these sessions will be preceded by a light meal served for a half-hour, so those planning to attend are asked to pre-register by calling Woodlands Community Services at (780) 778-8400 or by e-mailing [email protected].
Mah said they are specifically looking for community perspectives on what the challenges are to their health and wellbeing and how they could be resolved through social programs and services.
For instance, in the wake of the pandemic, many people have expressed that they are feeling more loneliness and isolation, so a possible solution could be more opportunities to get together with people of the same age or computer training for seniors.
Mah said they are approaching this assessment from of a “holistic perspective” of wellbeing, as opposed to focusing on physical needs like maintaining roads.
“We know that wellbeing isn’t just somebody’s physical health. We know that it’s about their sense of connection and inclusion within the community. It’s about their ability to take care of their families, to access things like healthy food or health care supports,” she said.