Kitchener’s Festival of Neighbourhoods held its 2018 Celebration this past weekend. Now a full quarter-century old, the Festival has become a community tradition, with several neighbourhoods participating every year.
More than 11,000 people from across Kitchener participated in the 123 gatherings registered with Festival of Neighbourhoods. Registered neighbourhood gatherings ranged in size from four to 1000 participants.
The winners of two $20,000 capital grants provided by the City of Kitchener were Cherry Park and Queen’s Park neighbourhoods. The grants, which are awarded annually, enable residents to plan and execute meaningful improvements in their neighbourhood.
The Neighbourhood Connections Award, sponsored by the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region, has become the Trudy Beaulne Award, in honour of one of the Festival of Neighbourhoods founders. The award was presented to the Victoria Park neighbourhood in order to provide time for more engagement and community development activities to strengthen the social connections in this neighbourhood.
The Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region helped recognize three gatherings for being inclusive and welcoming to residents in their neighbourhood. Those recognized included the New Doon neighbourhood BBQ, Schneider Creek neighbourhood annual potluck, and Auditorium neighbourhood New Year’s skating party. Doon South neighbourhood was also recognized for their “Backyard Sessions” series of inclusive gatherings, which included a forest therapy hike, and sessions on traditional Indian yoga, home maintenance, as well as other activities.
This year’s Ward Challenge winner was Ward 4, with 26 registered neighbourhood gatherings.
“We are witnesses to rapid changes within our neighbourhoods and in the broader society,” said Aleksandra Petrovic Graonic, Festival of Neighbourhoods joint venture member. “For 25 years, Festival of Neighbourhoods has shared a consistent message about the power of relationships in creating wellbeing and resilience while being open to diversity in age, origins, abilities, faith or material standing of our neighbours. This message seems to be more important today as it ever was.”
Festival of Neighbourhoods is a joint venture between John MacDonald Architect, the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and the City of Kitchener. The Festival aims to foster and grow community by encouraging citizens to come together across diversity within their neighbourhood, and by celebrating their accomplishments. .