Pressing play on back-to-school

The #LoveLove Letter, United Way Elgin Middlesex

local news with impact

Kelly Ziegner, President & CEO United Way Elgin Middlesex

We know enduring this pandemic has been hard on everyone, but for families the impact of virtual learning and lockdowns on kids’ mental health has been especially hard.  

Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, agrees. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Mackie where he confirmed that the return to school and seeing friends and being able to play with them, even in the conditions of restriction, makes a big difference for kids’ wellbeing and academic success.  

Continuing this progress after school is a critical part of the equation, and that’s where United Way funded programs like Ignite Youth Centre come in. Ignite is just one of many drop-in programs United Way currently funds across our region that provide free, safe and inclusive spaces for youth to make social connections, access healthy food and basic needs, and learn alternatives to high-risk behaviours and activities.

Spencer Mederios, a youth engagement co-ordinator at Ignite, says that when the pandemic hit they had to figure out on the fly how to do virtual programming. It was all new for them but pretty soon virtual movie nights and online chat groups took hold and the kids were feeling that sense of connection again. This summer, Ignite started welcoming kids back in person. It’s been a pretty awesome journey—you can see for yourself here. 

Hearing kids laugh and play when I walk past the local school in my neighbourhood brightens my day. And knowing that children and youth have safe spaces where they can connect and feel like they belong is one more important step on our community recovery. 

Thank you for improving lives locally, 

P.S. Do you need help for you or a loved one? Call 211 anytime 24/7 to get connected to supports close to home. 

Donate today

Ignite Youth Centre – Staff at Ignite Youth Centre in St. Thomas recognized early in the first COVID-19 shut-down that they needed a new way to help youth in the community. The Centre—which serves nearly 500 Elgin County adolescents yearly through its free programs and vibrant drop-in centre in downtown St. Thomas—shifted to virtual activities quickly.

Hey St. Thomas, it’s Love Local Week – United Way is painting the town red with a little help from the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation and local businesses. Head downtown Oct. 18-22 and look for the United Way decal at participating businesses to get your Shop Local, Love Local passport. Collect five stamps from participating businesses (no purchase necessary) and you’re automatically entered in a draw to win fiercely local gift basket filled with goodies. Local businesses are also generously donating a portion of their sales to United Way.

Stepping up for our community – The staff team at South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre are busy polishing their step-class moves in preparation for the virtual TD Bank StairClimb for United Way happening on Nov. 4. You can pledge South London Neighbourhood Resource CentreBig Brothers Big Sisters, Luso Community Services and many other United Way agency teams as they raise money for local United Way funded programs.