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Tantramar: Youth are building healthy New Brunswick communities – and here’s how

Through a partnership with Mount Allison University, Horizon's Port Elgin and Region Health Services Centre (PERHSC) has secured a student who created positive change for the community in just a short amount of time. 

This year, that student was Hannah Crouse. Over the course of 15 weeks, while working together with her peers, Hannah has connected people, secured grants for initiatives and was a huge part of helping people be healthy in the Tantramar Region.

Corinna Power, nurse practitioner at PERHSC, said they've been so fortunate to be able to have a student every summer since 2018 through this partnership with Mount Allison.

"This summer, Hannah has done an amazing job with program development," Corinna said. "In collaboration with our health centre team and the Tantramar Area's community developer, she's worked with both youth and seniors in our community, while partnering with key community groups to create change."

Below, we've dived into two of the projects that Hannah led over the summer, and we look forward to sharing more of the great work coming from these partnerships.

Food boxes

Christoph Becker, principal of the Port Elgin Regional School (PERS), is passionate about the students at his school (check out In Your Community for a story about how Christoph supports food security among his students).

At the Kindergarten to Grade 8 school, the lunch program is available to any student whose family uses the foodbank - which is the only meal of the day for some students.

When COVID-19 closed schools in March, a daily lunch was no longer available for some students.

As well, prior to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), money became extremely tight and many families were facing food insecurity.

Christoph identified 18 families that needed help. For the remainder of the school year, and over the summer, food boxes were assembled and delivered to these families on a biweekly basis.

"I wrote grants, collected food, assembled boxes and helped Christoph deliver them to these 18 families," Hannah said. "With the grants I received, I purchased meat from local farmers in the Port Elgin area to help support their families and their businesses."

Period poverty

Through the PERHSC, Hannah is helping address the social problem of period poverty for middle school students in the area. Period poverty is a lack of access to sanitary products and menstrual hygiene education.

Hannah secured a $1,000 Community Innovation Grant (COIN-G) from Horizon for this. COIN-G is a grant program for application by community stakeholders in partnership with Horizon to fund initiatives or projects within local communities. This grant supports projects related to population health that focus on the social determinants of health, and where possible, respond to the priorities determined through the Community Health Needs Assessments.

With the grant money, she was able to purchase products such as tampons, pads, and educational materials. As well, she received 45 Diva Cups from the Diva Cares Program, all of which were donated.

Period packs are put together for students in need. They include sanitary products, as well as educational resources such as booklets, diagrams, and pamphlets.

Students at PERS can access packs through the school's resource teacher, school teachers or Hannah, whoever the student feels most comfortable approaching.

"By bringing menstruation to the forefront of individuals' education, maybe even incorporating it into the syllabus, this conversation is normalized and given the space to exist in a safe and welcoming environment," Hannah said.

This will facilitate a conversation among PERS students and allow them to ask important questions about their bodies and resources available.

"By integrating this kind of initiative, the conversation surrounding periods and period equity will be normalized, which is crucial for middle school aged children," Hannah said.

"I'm proud of the contributions I have made to these initiatives over the summer," said Hannah. "I would encourage other students to take advantage of opportunities to give back, it feels good to help people in the community."

Hannah Crouse is originally from Stewiacke, N.S., and in the fall of 2020 will enter her third year at Mount Allison University. A former resident of Harper Hall, she's completing a double major in sociology and psychology, and plans on completed her honours in sociology.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she's been a part of the Tantramar COVID-19 Task Force on the Youth and Student Action Group, in addition to subcommittees for childcare, food security and environmental sustainability.

After graduation, she's looking at attending law school, medical school or study public policy. Although all different career paths, they all have the common denominator of facilitating change.

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