Each year, the University of Victoria at Selkirk College nursing students participate in a leadership project, often involving research working with a community partner. Cassie Jenkins and Kasane Magee recently completed their project which aimed to help the Castlegar and District Community Services Society (CDCSS) design a new women’s centre. The students conducted a series of local focus groups to ascertain what women in the community wanted to see in a women’s center. The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute provided research advisory services to this project, including research design and student mentoring support.
“It was really interesting for us to speak with women in the community about a women’s center”, said Cassie Jenkins. “We learned so much during the focus groups which included employees of the society, women with lived experience in transitional housing, and an Aboriginal elder”.
The students discovered that services desired included advocacy to support women’s interactions with the legal, governmental, and health care sectors, as well as child care and transportation to facilitate their involvement in the women’s center, and the development of a feminist library.
“The women we interviewed hoped for the opportunity to teach and learn from other women”, said Kasane Magee, “which included building skills, like learning to can, sew, paint, and use computers”. The women also expressed interest in programs such as yoga, glamour activities, counselling, field trips, and workshops on topics such as parenting, dependent living, eating on a budget, mental health, and relationships.
The students’ research also uncovered multiple barriers to participation in a women’s center, including mental health challenges, poor self-esteem, and poverty.
“What’s exciting for us is that we now have some guidance in creating a centre that meets local needs and interests”, said Kristein Johnson, Executive Director of the CDCSS. The organization has been fortunate to receive a Rural Dividend grant to develop a women’s centre in Castlegar. The nursing students’ research shows that such a centre has great potential in improving women’s lives, from increasing a sense of belonging, decreasing isolation, and providing education and supports through relationship building with the society and other women in the community.
If you are interested in more details on the research results, see the What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs video prepared by Cassie and Kasane for the staff and board of the CDCSS. For more information about the Castlegar and District Community Services Society visit cdcss.ca.