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Red Cross connects with First Nations youth through art

Bored and isolated, who hasn’t struggled with those feelings in the last nine months? And then a package arrives in your community. It’s filled with stress relief strategies, positive messages, and a fun-filled afternoon of creation and expression. The Canadian Red Cross really knows how to pack a box!
Mid-November, the Violence Risk Reduction team in Manitoba sent the first of three engagement kits to First Nation communities. Like the very popular subscription boxes that deliver everything from silly socks to fancy cheeses, this box is filled with means to manage stress, wellness strategies for youth, and in the first box, all the fixings for an afternoon of tie-dye.
Originally planned as a school-wide activity, the Red Cross team had to think inside the box when it came time for the first delivery, due to physical distancing requirements.
“We had to get creative on how to engage with youth virtually,” said Maxine Schminke, Violence Risk Reduction outreach coordinator.
A tie dye shirtIn the box, the community received a full lesson plan, and all the materials to tie-dye pillowcases and face masks.
The session in Nelson House began with a Zoom call. The Red Cross team explained strategies for coping during trying times and turning inner struggles into positive actions like practicing art and funneling feelings of stress into creative work. Then the Red Cross facilitators turned the session over to the youth so they could enjoy the activity.
“It seemed fun for the kids. Tie-dye was something fresh and new for them,” said Schminke. “The session felt very successful, especially since we were dealing with safe-distancing barriers and virtual delivery.”
Norway House also hosted an art-based activity that was led by the school.
The art boxes are part of an engagement initiative that focuses on promoting self-care and wellbeing to youth.
There are two more upcoming sessions, the next one going out in January. Schminke has requested that we not reveal the next art activity as the surprise is part of the fun.  
Mum’s the word!

This program was supported thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada's Emergency Community Support Fund.​

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