The Fall 2023 Community Changemakers Program, an initiative led by the City of Brantford, Wilfrid Laurier University and Laurier LaunchPad Brantford, concluded on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
The program wrapped up with a pitch competition that saw eight community-based projects receive grants to help launch initiatives developed during the six-week program.
“The Community Changemaker Program continues to be an excellent opportunity for the City of Brantford and Laurier to engage with so many talented residents who are passionate about building an inclusive community. We have seen many creative projects originate from this program and we are excited to see the meaningful impact these ideas will have in our community,” said Brooke Papple, Community Initiatives Coordinator for the City of Brantford.
This year, individuals and groups were invited to develop a program, service, or event to help support the development of belonging and social inclusion in Brantford. All Community Changemaker participants received a certificate of completion from Wilfrid Laurier University.
“Laurier LaunchPad Brantford is pleased to continue to partner with the City of Brantford on such an integral program that allows residents of Brantford to learn, develop their community ideas, and most of all, to action these ideas to create positive change and build an inclusive community,” added Julie Perkins, Laurier LaunchPad Program Coordinator.
The program resulted in the development of eight community projects:
- Active Aging Social Club by Michelle Jamieson, a social connection club for seniors.
- Book of Hope by Tina Barkhouse, a mental health resource and wellness guide in the community.
- Cultural Textbooks by Sarah Molani, providing age-appropriate Islamic books for teachers at the Brantford Mosque Islamic School to effectively engage Muslim children in learning about Islam.
- Love Mom Clothing Exchange by Ruby Streicher, a free clothing exchange event that allows moms to give back to one another and their community.
- Radiant Rays by Khadija Kamal, a wellness group for children.
- Rainbows by Chris Paul Farias, providing diverse children’s books for 24 Little Free Libraries across Brantford.
- Tamil Cultural Association by Anandan Selvaraj and Madhanraj Manian, establishing a Tamil Cultural Association in Brantford in efforts to preserve and promote the Tamil culture through education, arts, community engagement and intercultural exchanges.
- The Cabin by Nicole Callander, an inclusive social hangout space focused on creating genuine social connections and friendships for teens and adults living with disabilities.
“We are grateful to the City of Brantford for accepting our idea and providing the funds to turn our vision of the Tamil Cultural Association into a reality. We’re excited for the positive impact it’s going to bring to the Tamil people and the entire Brantford community,” said Anandan Selvaraj and Madhanraj Manian, Community Changemaker participants.
“The biggest impact for me was the inspiration and encouragement I received from being in a room full of like-minded individuals with a strong desire to bring community together. I am so grateful for the support I received from the City in funding my venture, and to the Changemakers Program for providing this learning path full of possibilities,” added Ruby Streicher, Community Changemaker participant.
The Laurier LaunchPad will continue to work with participants to implement their ideas and problem solve any challenges that occur throughout the process.
The next cohort of the Community Changemaker Program will be offered in March 2024 and will be geared towards youth participants. Application and registration details will be announced in February 2024.
Inclusive Community Plan 2023-2026
In June 2023, Brantford City Council unanimously adopted the Inclusive Community Plan 2023-2026 which was endorsed by over 30 community organizations and is based on three guiding principles: Learn from Each Other, Stand up for Each Other and Celebrate Each Other. The Community Changemaker Program represents a unique initiative that incorporates these guiding principles and supports community-based projects that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.