2021 was a year that required patience, resilience and a great deal of self-reliance. These are all qualities demonstrated by Daina Ozolins, our 2022 Student Of The Year.
Daina attended her first class at KNH back in 2014 when she enrolled in a beginners’ computer class. Over the years Daina has been an active participant here - attending many programs, particularly art, meditation and mindfulness activities.
During 2021, Daina took her studies to a whole new level – both in terms of formal learning and building new life skills.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Daina was one of many community members without internet access. Her only device was an analogue phone. Kensington Neighbourhood House gave Daina an iPad and staff showed her how to connect to the free wifi on the front veranda. It wasn’t long before Daina was mastering email, tele-health appointments and google searches. She also participated in an online Tai Chi class and online Choir group.
Later in the year, as lockdowns continued, Daina joined our Tuesday Afternoon Art class – working via Zoom with our art teacher, Laura Stevenson, and a group of creative women to practice mindfulness through art making.
While many in Daina’s position would have given up and stayed indoors all day, Daina made the effort to get out and about and connect with others.
“During the endless lockdowns, when we couldn’t open our doors, it was great to see Daina out on the front porch practicing her Tai Chi over Zoom. Her commitment to getting out of her flat and keeping in contact with people was inspiring,” says Esther Sadek, Community Development Specialist.
Once we were finally able to open our doors to the public, Daina was keen to get involved in face-to-face activities. She became an active member of our Threading Stories group and also attended Healthy Living & Learning activities.
“During Threading Stories sessions, Daina is a great “connector””, says Esther. “She can speak Mandarin and acts as an unofficial interpreter for some of the elderly Chinese participants. It helps them to feel much more comfortable in the group.”
Having forged strong connections at KNH, Daina is now giving back to our community by volunteering as a helper in our Creative Art For Kids classes.
We love having Daina as part of our KNH family and hope she continues her learning journey with us for many more years!