Sweet success: Southeastern Community Health Board awards Wellness Fund grants to 11 non-profit groups including BEEA Honey with Heart project
The annual Wellness Fund celebration hosted by Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Southeastern Community Health Board was buzzing with the excitement of 11 non-profit organizations that have received grants to improve health in their communities.
Among this year’s deserving grant recipients, announced last month, is Family SOS’s BEEA Honey with Heart, which describes itself as “a youth-led social enterprise project” that give participants ranging in ages 12 through 17, or from Grade 7 to 12, the responsibilities of “managing beehives, ensuring the well-being of the bees, and educating their community on the importance of bees on a global level.”
These youth leaders care for bee hives in four community gardens in at-risk communities across Halifax Regional Municipality, with the newest in East Preston.
Through fun, skill-building activities, the young participants learn entrepreneurial, leadership and mentoring skills while also working toward environmental sustainability within their communities.
“The things our community members do when we come together never cease to amaze me,” said board president Loretta Beals at the Wellness Fund cheque celebration in late February.
Thanks to this new Wellness Fund support for BEEA Honey with Heart from the Southeastern Community Health Board, the project will receive new beekeeping suits, which are in need of replacement.
“The bee suits are supposed to last five years based on once per week use, but the kids are using them every day, so unfortunately they are degrading quicker than expected,” explained Emily Sollows, fund development coordinator for Family SOS.
“The BEEA youth are so excited to get the new equipment,” she said. “It means they can be more efficient in harvesting honey at each hive location and can safely interact with the hive and the bees.”
The BEEA Honey with Heart students also participate in collecting and bottling the honey, which is sold to local customers. It’s no wonder this sweet task is a common favourite.
“It’s incredible how they’ve all become ambassadors to the importance of bees and about the environment overall,” Sollows said.
“I think their favourite part is the hands-on hive checking and honey harvesting, but they’ve been really enjoying learning about entrepreneurship, sustainability and leadership as well.”
Even at the newest BEEA Honey with Heart apiary in East Preston, participants are already seeing success and gaining self-confidence.
In fact, empowered by the skills gained in the East Preston program, one of its young senior leaders is now looking to expand her skills by starting work toward a community development degree from Acadia University in Wolfville this fall.
“She said this program helped set her up for deciding her career, which is incredible,” Sollows said.
BEEA Honey with Heart hives are also located in Spryfield, north-end Dartmouth and north-end Halifax.
“These Wellness Funds mean so much to Family SOS and the BEEA Honey with Heart program,” Sollows said.
“We are passionate about the health and wellness of the families and youth we help. We can’t wait to work with the BEEA youth this year to help build healthy, happy communities.”
Congratulations to BEEA Honey with Heart – the future looks sweet!
To learn more about the Wellness Fund program, please visit www.communityhealthboards.ns.ca/wellness-funds.