Tell us a little about yourself!
Hi there, my name is Janelle! I am currently a third year Kinesiology Undergraduate student studying at the University of Calgary. My hope is to become a doctor or work within the medical field, assisting and providing for individual’s needs. Growing up, I have always been involved with sports - whether it be dancing, swimming, soccer, kung fu or ballet. As I began university, my favourite sport became bouldering! Despite not having the liberty to go and climb, I still enjoy working out everyday to take care of myself. Furthermore, a deep passion of mine is nutrition and autism. With an autistic sibling, my experiences as the youngest sibling has indefinitely changed me to become a more responsible and mature individual. Upon entering university, I have had multiple opportunities to research in the field of nutrition, probiotics, gut microbiome and autism. It is a fascinating, yet challenging interest I have grown to love! Being a student leader in multiple Student Union Campus clubs, sport environments and youth group at my church, I love starting creative initiatives to improve the well-being of others. For example, in the Autism Awareness Club - we initiated events and symposiums where autistic individuals shared their lived experiences, challenges and joys. It brings me so much joy being able to serve my community members whether it be at school or through an organization.
This pandemic has impacted my family immensely. Having an autistic brother with low immunity and a mother with higher risk for having COVID-19, we have become diligent in maintaining their physical, mental and emotional health. Though, I am glad to say they are still healthy and well at this time! It saddens me quite a bit knowing that other individuals may be in more difficult and traumatic situations, thus, my family and I continue to share our materials, words and encouragements to these families. Knowing how scary it may be with family members at risk, I only hope to assist individuals facing the reality of such dire consequences at this time!
Tell us about your #MakeWaves project.
As a keen student who loves learning about how to improve individual’s lives via health, nutrition and exercise, it has been really difficult to witness the impacts of the pandemic around our world right now. Growing up volunteering at senior homes and with less fortunate individuals, I long to help these communities. These individuals have taught me so much about challenges in life, how to endure through hardships as they did and what real joy looks like. And now, I want to give back to them as they did for me.
My anticipated plan of giving back to the community is this: completing free pre-packaged grocery deliveries for seniors at low income apartments monthly. Knowing that the older population is more at risk for COVID-19, their safety, health and well-being are at stake when they must complete groceries alone. Thus - by assisting in grocery deliveries, it will minimize the impact upon their health and lives as well as the medical system in Alberta, should anything happen to the older population.
In terms of physical well-being, our team will gather the list of individuals who require pre-packaged grocery deliveries monthly that contain essential items - such as carbohydrates, proteins, good fats and vegetables. Due to groceries being pre-packaged, our hope is that it will shorten the duration of gather items and elongate the time of actually preparing a package to bring seniors joy. By including the essential items for groceries, this will ensure seniors eat from all four food groups and maintain a healthy body.
In terms of mental well-being, our team hopes to educate each senior with the groceries bought. For example, if multiple types of vegetables were offered that month, we will write down the health benefits and nutritional aspect of the items. This will ensure seniors are being educated of how to maintain their health during a difficult pandemic.
In terms of emotional well-being, our team will include hand written notes each month for every senior to ensure they are cared for and loved - even from afar. Our hand written cards will consist of heartfelt messages from multiple individuals. I believe this will uplift the community so they feel less lonely and unnoticed; but rather, be reminded that they too are important people in our society.
Due to the low income aspect, we hope to keep pre-packaged groceries free of cost. Our vision of having a holistic grocery delivery comes from understanding the physical, social, mental and emotional impacts this pandemic may cause upon seniors and higher risk populations.
Who inspired you?
The inspiration for this community project began in the beginning of the pandemic. As an avid volunteer at a local senior home, I began to worry for the residents I built a deeper friendship with. Each month, I would assist seniors in physical therapy exercising and playing games with them. However, with cancelled volunteering and visitations, I was unsure about how to assist these individuals.
Discussing with a friend about our similar senior home experiences, we began to think of seniors that may not have attending physicians or nurses in this time. As the older population is more at risk, our fear for low-income seniors living alone deepened. Understanding the holistic impact of social-distancing and difficulty of grocery shopping, we decided to assist this population in offering free grocery hampers as a way to show concern, love and care for a lonely, high risk population. In all, our inspiration for this community project began with friendly discussions about how we miss seeing our seniors and volunteering!