How a Park Became a Place of Healing

décembre 13, 2023
Patricia Feehely

Meet community leaders Nawal, Marie-Pierre and Geneviève from Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Their stories are part of our winter donation campaign, featuring the incredible work being done to foster social connection and community resilience in parks and green spaces across Canada. 


Nawal is a busy person. She has a full-time job helping newcomers settle in Canada. When she isn’t working or spending time with her family, she volunteers in her local Flemingdon, Toronto community. Flemingdon is a community rich with new immigrants that now call Toronto home. However, many need help navigating a new city and making ends meet. Understanding these challenges herself and driven by a passion to help, Nawal co-founded Flemingdon Community Support Services.

Source: Flemingdon park cleanup, Toronto

This volunteer-led organization helps the community access food, housing and employment. After months of serving the community, something became clear to Nawal. She began to recognize one crucial gap, a persistent need that wasn’t being met:  loneliness. So many of her neighbours felt incredibly isolated and alone. 

Nawal approached Park People with an idea.

Source: Flemingdon park cleanup, Toronto

Flemingdon has vast and beautiful parks.  Despite it being a dense area of high and low-rise apartment buildings where most residents don’t have a backyard, this neighborhood off the Don Valley offers sprawling, public greenspaces for everyone to share. But they are underused. Some people don’t feel safe in the parks, while others struggle to find the time or a reason to use them.

Fueled by a passion for community and connection, Nawal worked with Park People to start a weekly Health and Wellness meet-up in her local park. Every week, members of her community gather to explore topics of conversation, ranging from sharing nutritious recipes to engaging in storytelling, learning a dance, or simply taking a walk together. The group is inclusive, consistent and caring. Over time, the gathering evolved into a community hub, where new friendships are forged, and people discover a deep sense of belonging. 

Source: Nawal at Arts in the Park, Flemingdon park, Toronto

Recently, a community member told Nawal she was initially nervous about attending, but now she can’t imagine her life without the weekly meet-up at the park, a mental health refuge for her and a bright light in her week. 

As the holiday season approaches, we invite you to help brighten communities with the gift of connection. Your donation to Park People, big or small, will support people like Nawal. Your generosity unlocks the true potential of parks, helping people create community, healing, and celebration hubs.

In donating, you are not just giving; you are actively participating in creating a resilient city where people and the rest of nature thrive.


Read other community leaders’ stories with Marie-Pierre from Vancouver and Geneviève from Montreal.


Donate today