With multiple communities in lockdown across the country, connection can be a real challenge – but it’s not ‘virtually’ impossible.
At Fortem, we continue our work to ensure that first responders and their families are staying connected through Virtual Wellbeing Activities.
Despite re-arranging our calendar, shifting activities online and dreaming up new virtual events at the drop of a hat, our Community Engagement Coordinators (CECs) have not seen participant numbers drop – testament to the benefits of connection and the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
At Fortem, we have always been proud to offer online activities to reach as many first responder families as possible. In 2021, keeping families connected across states and countries, and creating social opportunities for first responders in rural and remote communities, has never been more important.
Gen Lindsay, coordinator of a Fortem virtual cooking class and one of our CECs for the Canberra region, speaks of the impacts she has seen. They are “social, thoughtful, and personable”, she says.
The virtual Greek cooking classes – run by Kelly at Hellenic Odyssey – sees first responders and their families learning new tricks in the kitchen and connecting over recipes, culture, and stories. Kelly stops to speak individually to participants, asking what they like, what they’d do differently, and accommodating allergies to ensure that everyone can be involved.
“This was such a fun and well organised and hosted activity,” says one participant.
“It made me feel more connected to other human beings for the evening. I live isolated and have felt lonely during this pandemic.”
What Gen loves most about this activity is that participants have formed a virtual community – returning regularly to catch up during the activity and the meal that follows.
Some families even log in from postings overseas; using the Fortem Wellbeing Activity to maintain regular connection with their loved ones.
Whether you’re an aficionado or a beginner, the classes cater for all levels of cooking skill.
“I burn water,” laughs Gen,“but I enjoy going in and talking to people.”
Alison Horne, our Illawarra and Shoalhaven CEC, says Virtual Yoga with Rebecca from Frontline has been a hit. Some reviews from attendees reflect the benefits it offers not only during the class, but beyond the mat and into people’s day-to-day.
“For someone that had never done yoga before, it has quickly become the thing I look forward to the most all week. I am feeling tremendous benefits from it. I’m really enjoying it and the little community vibe the sessions have.”
Building connections and sustainable wellness practices, the sessions have created “a little community” and offered “self-help strategies to deal with the heaviness of the lockdown.”
One participant said that it made her feel “inspired to do more wellbeing activities.”
Alison has also been hard at work compiling and posting activity packs to replace some of the in-person activities. These include Family Craft Packs, Family Night In Packs, and Family Story Time packs – keeping families connected and inspiring new ways to spend quality time with the little ones through lockdown.
“Thanks for the Activity Pack. We don’t often do activities like this at home but when it’s all in a little pack it was easy. Thanks heaps,” one recipient said.
Click play to see the reaction when a Fortem Activity Pack arrives…
Our CECs continue to run FREE activities for eligible first responders and their families. Check out Who We Serve and our Wellbeing Activities Calendar to see what’s coming up in your area/on your screen.