The Diocese of Niagara has been awarded a grant from the Anglican Foundation of Canada for a new pilot project called 5G: 5 Ways to Share God’s Love Through Technology. The project will offer support and break down technological barriers for faith leaders and families in Canada. The project will also support parish and diocesan programs that will adapt to hybrid models to include both in-person and virtual options as we move towards a post-pandemic season. The 5G project will offer support and break down technological barriers for families and faith leaders within the diocese and beyond. Beginning in April this project will have five areas of focus:
- A lending library of tablets for families. Throughout the pandemic there have been several instances where children, youth, and young adults were unable to attend virtual gatherings due to only having one device that was used by a parent or partner for work purposes, or by siblings who were attending other virtual extra curriculars. Providing a secondary device to households will provide more access to virtual events.
- A Lending library of tablets, laptops, and other technological needs for Children Youth and Family Ministry volunteers and leaders.
- Educational workshops for volunteers and faith leaders who plan to offer virtual programming/events. Examples of workshops include: Knowledge for inclusive access to virtual spaces specifically for disabilities, exceptionalities, and other barriers for marginalized participants; and training on virtual platforms and communications.
- Subscriptions to virtual resources for Children Youth and Family Ministry leaders and volunteers across the diocese, such as Kahoot!, an online platform that engages children and youth through fun games and stimulating quizzes.
- Training and educational opportunities for the diocesan Children Youth and Family Ministry staff, so that they can continue to offer workshops and trainings to volunteers and faith leaders. Example: Learning healthy boundaries and applying it to virtual spaces offered through Faith Trust Institute.
God has led us through new doors of innovation and creativity that have forever changed the landscape of how we gather children, youth, young adults, and families. Virtual gatherings are crucial to the life of the Church as they continue to break down barriers, provide a sense of safety and comfort, and build trusting relationships amongst participants.
One child, during “Sparking Children’s Faith” (a virtual program exploring Bible stories and life’s big questions) shared that it was his first-time exploring faith and asking questions about God. He felt safe to be himself, and he felt a sense of belonging. This participant struggled with in-person interactions and revealed that it had been hard for him to make friends because often children would say that he was weird or different. The 5G project will help to amplify the message to more children, youth, and young adults that they belong, they are not alone, and most importantly are loved by God.
The grant is part of a fundraising campaign for children, youth and young adults called Say Yes to Kids, an attempt by the Anglican Foundation of Canada to respond to the effects of the pandemic and profound impact on families across Canada. The requested proposals contribute to the physical, intellectual, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being of children, youth, and young adults in a post-pandemic world.
The Say Yes to Kids campaign also awarded grants for parish initiatives at St. George’s in Guelph, Grace Church in Waterdown, and St. Luke’s in Smithville, for a total of over $21,000 in parishes across the Niagara Diocese. We are incredibly grateful for the leadership team at the Anglican Foundation who offered much support to clergy, lay leaders, and diocesan staff. The Anglican Foundation’s Say Yes to Kids campaign provided leaders the opportunity to dream again after two long years. Across Canada the campaign ignited new energy, hope, and excitement for children, youth, and family ministry.
We look forward to supporting new initiatives this year. Be sure to watch out for Niagara’s new Say Yes to Kids projects!