Miss Ponoka Stampede Naomi Akkermans gives the thumbs up to masking up and staying safe as she helped out at the FCSS drive-in movie last month with similar rules in place for this month’s community event July 30. Photo submitted

Art program providing outlet for feelings amid pandemic

FCSS also hosting another community drive-in event

A project, unique in its nature, is helping to gain some insights into the affects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on people.

Ponoka Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) recently started a four-week expressive art program that is designed to assist people in dealing with what is going on.

“The program was developed after gaining insight from local families as to their vision for some local programming needs,” explained FCSS executive director Shannon Boyce-Campbell.

“Therefore, to assist parents and children to find an interactive way to articulate how COVID-19 is impacting them, this program was created.”

Operated by Winn Rietema, an expressive art facilitator and mental health therapist based in Lacombe, the free program is presented online one day each week for four weeks.

Currently, there is just a group of eight to 12 year-olds and they are halfway through the program.

“There are tangible mental health benefits in being able to express your feeling in this way, through art,” Rietema said.

“It’s been a great process with the kids, seeing the storytelling in their works about just what their experiences have been like through this pandemic. It is a different type of therapy that they aren’t used to, so you need to pay attention to what resonates with each person and be mindful of what they are doing. Then, you can build upon, use and talk about those impacts they have experienced.”

A program for adults had also been made available, but no registrations were received.

“It’s summer and there are a lot more things to do,” Rietema said.

“We will see what the fall brings and see if there is a need to bring this program back.”

Community event

Meanwhile, on the heels of a rather successful drive-in movie last month, FCSS is organizing another fun drive-in event at the parking lot of the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.

It’s called “Free” Space Bingo and will run July 30 starting at 6:30 p.m. People will need to register with FCSS by calling 403-783-4462 and must be either a resident of the eastern side of Ponoka County or of the Town of Ponoka.

All physical distancing rules must be complied with, people must remain in their vehicles and the games will be called via an FM radio frequency, with a disc jockey providing between game entertainment.

The town is providing each registrant with a $5 coupon to the Hot Express food truck that will be there, for drive-thru only, starting at 5:30 p.m. As well, Seasons Retirement Ponoka will be providing a Bonanza Bonus treat for each participant.

Ponoka FCSS program coordinator Shelly Van Eaton feels events like these really help to build upon the community spirit that is definitely needed in these times.

“Ponoka is an active, resilient community and we want to give all the supports we can right now and encourage wellness. Not all pandemic memories will be of challenges and we are trying to help make sure of it,” she said.

“People are keeping busy in different ways and we are hearing many are spending more time as a family and getting creative on strengthening or changing careers. The ripple effect can take off with positives or negatives, lets push for positive.”


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FCSS will be hosting another community event July 30 and hope for better weather than the drive-in movie held last month. File photo

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