Open Door Group ‘thrive’ eBulletin – August 2013

Get connected this fall…


What does it mean to connect to community?  In addition to experiencing a mental health condition, often people that come to thrive identify as feeling disconnected from their community and feeling isolated.


Thrive offers access to one-to-one coaching to develop personalized plans to reconnect with their community and maintain mental wellness.  For some people, the programs that we offer can be a good fit to brush up on old and new skills, develop a healthy lifestyle, increase awareness of resources and ultimately get and feel connected to their community.


Enjoy the latest eBulletin which offers program updates, tips and resources for developing your own healthy lifestyle and learn about our upcoming partnership with Douglas College where we will be delving deeper into that question of what it means for people to feel connected to community.



Warm regards,

Open Door Group thrive Program


The thrive program is a stepping stone for individuals living with a mental health condition to connect in their community. The focus is on personal coaching, developing life and social skills to improve and maintain wellness and participate through community connection. 

For more information, please click here. For a schedule of our fall programs, please click here:

Personal Journey



One woman’s journey from isolation to inclusion


At 20, Katie was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Despite being diagnosed in her youth, she did not get proper medical attention until twenty years later. By then, she had four children and was not managing well at all.


In 2000, Katie was finally connected to a mental health team. At the time, she was volunteering at a school as well as a local neighbourhood house. In her volunteer position, she became an advocate for senior services, responsible for coordinating events for up to 250 community participants. She also fundraised to set up a child care program. “I wanted to help and I became a lead volunteer at the centre, however there was one major problem; I was still struggling internally with my mental illness and concealed it from everyone. I just worked hard and continued on like nothing was wrong”.


Then in 2008, Katie was involved in a terrible car accident that further impacted her mental health. Immediately after the accident, she shut herself off from the world completely. Overnight, she went from full-time volunteer, mother and carer, actively engaged in the community, to total disconnection. After dedicating 10 years to the neighbourhood house (she was awarded a special plaque for this milestone) she abruptly lost touch with the organization. “I gave up on life entirely”, says Katie. “But I couldn’t kill myself because of my children.”


Katie’s depression grew progressively worse as she became more and more isolated. She lost her motivation for everything – work, leisure activities she had previously enjoyed, and even household chores. Previously a good cook, she ate only frozen meals, if any, and came to rely on her mother to cook for her and her children. She slept on her couch with the curtains closed and would only leave the house with sunglasses and a hat, at times when there were few people around. Even these outings were rare; she only ventured out for essential groceries or the occasional short walk.


Family relationships deteriorated to the point that Katie barely spoke to her relatives and she had no friends to speak of. At this point, she didn’t enjoy being around people at all and found social situations very difficult. She didn’t like crowds and didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere.


Making the change…


Katie was receiving ongoing support from her mental health team and in 2012 she was referred to Open Door Group’s thrive program as a way to move forward with reconnecting to the community. After attending an orientation session, Katie met one-to-one with her Recreation Therapist. Together, they identified goals relating to personal wellness and community connection and developed a personalized plans to achieve them.


For the first few months, Katie struggled to attend programs that would support her personalized plan, due to symptoms related to her illness. In January 2013, things began to shift. Katie continued to meet one-to-one with her Recreation Therapist and became more and more ready to commit to change. The combination of programs as part of her plan (examples: Adventure Therapy, Cooking 101, Biggest Winner, and community events like Ride Don’t Hide and the RioTinto Alcan Dragonboat Festival) really helped her to move forward. “I got so much out of these programs”, says Katie. “After five years in the dark, no medicine can compare to what these last few months have done for me”.


Through her participation in Biggest Winner, for example, Katie learned the importance of healthy eating. She went from eating one meal a day to three which boosted her energy levels. “I feel great”, says Katy. “I learned how to use the gym and plan to continue going. I also got to know people and feel much more comfortable in groups now. I was even able to talk in front of the group; something I couldn’t do before. On top of that, I lost 7.2 inches all over. I feel so much better overall, emotionally and physically”.


As well as participation in various programs, Katie received other supports, for example, a bursary to purchase a notebook computer which has helped keep her mentally active and rediscover activities she had previously enjoyed.


Now, Katie’s goal is to step outside her comfort zone and gain confidence by meeting new people. She aims to become more active by incorporating exercise into her daily routine (she recently ran the 10km Sun Run and aims to run a half-marathon before she’s 65!). She also plans to return to her beloved neighbourhood house to take up her position as volunteer.

Summer Program Highlights


The Biggest Winner program helps participants develop skills to lead healthy lifestyles


Biggest Winner!

Thrive participants fit for the challenge


Now into our third 12-week round of Biggest Winner, participants have been kicking some serious butt! The Biggest Winner is a 12-week progam that helps participants work towards achieving their health and fitness goals while developing the skills to continue an ongoing active lifestyle independently.


Participants learned about getting active, healthy eating, exercising safely, and strategies to stay motivated.

Here are some of the highlights of our first round!

  • Top attendance was 22 out of 24 sessions. Everyone was keen to keep the momentum going. Way to stay committed!
  • Weight loss varied from 2lbs to 9lbs over 12 weeks
  • Inches lost varied from 2 inches to 11 inches
  • Based on fitness testing, almost everyone improved their overall fitness
  • Many participants began to incorporate regular healthy eating habits and exercise into their lifestyle. Some are now going to the gym independently and eating breakfast daily!.

‘This program gave me confidence and improved my self-esteem’ reflects one participant. ‘I learned that I can push myself a lot harder. I feel good after doing exercise and I learned that having a well-rounded breakfast every day helps set me in the right food pattern for the remainder of the day!’

Taking it up a Gear

Cycling program puts participants in the driver’s seat


‘Build-a-Bicyclist Program participants setting out for a training session

Cycling is good for you! People who cycle regularly can have lower blood pressure, reduced insulin levels and maintain a healthy weight. They’re also less stressed!


This past spring, thrive was pleased to partner with HUB to offer an amazing 7-week cycling program designed to get people onto bikes and cycling throughout the city. We had eight riders who trained twice a week for one month.


In addition to learning how to ride, participants learned the rules of the road, cycling routes and basic bicycle maintenance. On June 23rd, staff and participants took part in the CMHA ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ cycling event, promoting mental wellness with 2,200 fellow cyclists. After the event, participants were able to cycle home with their very own refurbished commuter bicycle complete with lights, lock and helmet!


‘The group gave me a reason to get out of the house and stay active’ says one participant. ‘It helped me to overcome my social anxiety’.


Since the initial partnership with HUB in the Spring, thrive has continued to offer cycling programs. To  learn more, contact us on (604) 876 0773 or email


Learning the ropes…

Youth Get Active!

Summer Sessions participants explore the great outdoors


The Summer Sessions program is coming to an end and did they ever have fun!  Over 30 participants aged 17-30 came out up to three times a week to take part in a variety of different programs this summer.


Summer Sessions provides an opportunity for youth and young adults living with a mental health condition to enjoy fun, free recreational activities and socialize with their peers.


This year, we’ve been doing everything from creative arts like Instagram and Pinterest and DIY crafts to BBQs at Kitsilano, outings and outdoor adventure therapy.


‘It’s always exciting to see a young person come in as a quiet, reserved, slight introvert and by the end of the program emerge as an engaged, social and vibrant young adult’ says May Chow, Recreation Therapist.


‘As a long time facilitator of this fantastic program, I’ve seen participants develop so much in terms of personal growth and I’ve loved observing friendships come to life. I look forward with much enthusiasm to what next summer holds!’


Interested in our youth/young adult programs? We have lots of exciting things planned for the Fall. Please contact us for further information at (604) 876 0773.


Our computer classes help participants learn a range of practical skills

Let’s get Digital 

Brush up on your computer skills in our lab

Thrive offers a wide range of opportunities to develop computer skills. From learning how to browse the internet to digital photography to graphic design, our programs help participants become more independent while gaining valuable skills that they can take with them into the workforce.


‘The computer experience starts with little steps, but it builds confidence’, says Open Door Group Computer Instructor, Carmen Pita. ‘It gives the participant independence, allows them to interact with others and work towards a common goal. When teaching classes, I always use this quote by Albert Einstein: ‘Don’t worry about what you know. Be confident in what you accomplish. Information is not knowledge; the only source of knowledge is experience’.


Want to learn more about our computer classes? Contact thrive at (604) 876 0773 or email


Upcoming Events and Projects



What does Community Inclusion Look Like to You?

New research project with Douglas College starting September 2013


We’re excited to be partnering with the Department of Therapeutic Recreation (TR) at Douglas College to embark on a research project here at Open Door Group. This community-based participatory research (CBPR) collaboration will explore how individuals living with mental illness experience community inclusion, health and well-being.


The research project will provide opportunities for individuals to share their personal experiences. There will also be opportunities for paid research positions. Stay tuned for postings!

Applicants can receive up to $150

A Little goes a Long Way

Bursary program helps Thrive participant get back in the saddle


My recreation therapist suggested that I apply for a recreation bursary as I was depressed and living a sedentary lifestyle. I took her advice and applied. My application was successful and I was given $150 to which I added $75 of my own to purchase a bike. Since then I’ve been riding regularly! I’ve become much more active, have lost weight, and even gotten involved in several biking groups both at the South Mental Health Team and Open Door Group. I also participated in Ride Don’t Hide – a 10km ride for mental health awareness.


I’m feeling much better mentally and more motivated to enjoy life! I’m so thankful that my life has turned around and is now heading in the right direction’.

– Bursary User


The Leisure, Health and Wellness Bursary Program supports individuals in achieving their goals, providing up to $150 in funds towards leisure, health and wellness pursuits. Bursaries are distributed every two months throughout the year. The next deadline for the Leisure, Health and Wellness bursary is October 15th, 2013.


To learn more about the Bursary program, email


Join us for an unforgettable evening of

film, art and music

Thrive Volunteers Pitch in with Film Festival Promotion

Thursday,September 12th 2013


It’s film festival time again! The 4th Annual ‘Picture This…’ Film Festival 2013 will take place on Thursday 12th September in the newly-named Imperial (formerly District 319).


In preparation for the festival, thrive program volunteers have been putting up posters and delivering flyers all over the city to help spread the word.


This special, red-carpet evening will feature six short films, all centred around disability.


The six films to be shown come from all over the world (UK, Spain, US, Northern Ireland) and span several genres, from drama to stop-motion animation to comedy.


Music will be provided by guitarist Lazare Halk, who is visually impaired.The event will also include an art show showcasing pieces by artists from throughout Vancouver including the Art Studios, MPA and the thrive program.


Join us! The festival is by donation. Don’t forget to reserve your seat here.


Wellness Tip

Food and Mood

Research shows that we really are what we eat

Learning how to make a healthy smoothie.

Did you know that what you eat has an impact both physically and mentally?


Good nutrition helps provide a solid foundation for good mental health so it’s wise to maintain a healthy diet that benefits both body and mind.


Check out this recipe for a healthy smoothie loaded with vitamins and nutrients to kickstart your day:

Easy Berry-Flaxseed Smoothie


  • 2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen mixed berries or blueberries
  • 1 small banana (sliced)

FACT: Flaxseed may seem like an unusual addition, but they blend in seamlessly to make this breakfast drink an excellent source of fibre. Add kale or spinach for extra vitamins!

How to make it:

Place the flaxseeds in dry blender, cover, and blend until ground into a fine powder. Add the orange juice, yogurt, mixed berries (or blueberries), and banana. Cover and blend until smooth and creamy.

Nutritional information (per serving)

  • Calories: 200
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 1mg
  • Sodium: 33mg
  • Carbohydrates: 36g
  • Protein: 5g

Community Shoutout!

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our community partners

Three Cheers for our Community Partners!

Because it’s nice to say thank you


We’d like to round off this e-Bulletin by thanking our wonderful community partners who help us deliver the best possible service to thrive clients.



who partnered with us on the ‘Build-A-Bicyclist program


The Pedal Depot:

who provided us with refurbished bicycles for the program


Art Studios and MPA: who will be sharing their beautiful artwork at this year’s ‘Picture This…’ Film Festival.





Open Door Group
30 East 6th Ave (Third Floor), Vancouver, BC V5T 1J3

T: 604 876 0773


F: 604 873 1758

Hours of Operation
9:30am-4:00pm Monday – Friday (Office)
Internet Cafe: 4:00pm-7:45pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
9:30am-3:45pm Saturday

Open Door Group is a registered charity. Support us by making a donation here.

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