UVic Rowers Making a Difference

By Sarah Molder, a practicum student

Saturday, March 17, 2018 marked the 15th consecutive year of the UVIC Rowers Work Party at The Cridge Centre for the Family. Each year, in collaboration with the Cridge Brain Injury Services program, the University of Victoria Men’s Rowing Team volunteers their manpower to complete landscaping tasks. For the first 12 years, rowers devoted their efforts to landscaping the grounds of MacDonald House, a residential facility for survivors of brain injury. In recent years, the volunteers and team have tackled larger scale projects on the main property of The Cridge Centre for the Family.

This year, with almost 40 energetic rowers in attendance, in collaboration with the Brain Injury Services team and under the direction of Mr. Organic of Friendly Organics (aka Dave Friend), three major garden/landscaping projects were completed in record time.

Project #1. Kale King Garden Reconfiguration

With help from our Brain Injury Survivors, the rowers successfully transformed the garden into a visually appealing and fully functional food growing area, complete with ample growing space and a practical teaching area.

In April each year, the garden is transformed into a learning space for children of the daycare centre. Throughout the spring and summer months, staff and survivors facilitate weekly food growing workshops that educate, encourage, and empower children to learn and connect with organic food growing principles.

In addition to providing valuable learning to children, the garden provides interim employment opportunities for survivors of brain injury who are, as part of their lifelong rehabilitation, taking preparatory steps to achieving employment skills that will benefit them in community-based work settings (punctuality, time management, responsibility, etc.).

Project #2. Daycare Pumpkin Patch

In this part of the project, rowers and our team dug a 12 by 20-foot rainbow-shaped pumpkin patch in front of The Cridge Centre for the Family property. As workers shoveled and hauled dirt out of the patch area, they piled the soil into a neighbouring 3-foot bank that mimicked the pumpkin patch’s rainbow-shape. The idea was to utilize soil dug from the patch to simultaneously build a food-growing area to maximize space for growing and education. Talk about efficient use of resources!

Come October, The Cridge will host a highly anticipated Pumpkin Festival where children can pick and carve their very own pumpkins.

Project #3. Front Lawn Beautification

In the last phase of our work, the team and rowers did a complete restoration of the bush area on the front lawn. Workers trimmed overgrown branches and removed debris and roots obstructing the walkway to spruce up the remaining area.

In closing, we wish to extend a huge thank you to the young men (and one woman) from the UVIC Men’s Rowing Team! Your consistent efforts and enthusiasm for community involvement are highly valued by everyone here at The Cridge Centre for the Family. We look forward to working with you again!

We are especially grateful to David Friend aka Mr. Friendly Organics for on-going support!