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This article was published 8/2/2021 (221 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two upcoming model-building workshops will encourage veterans to try their hand at a new hobby.
These introductory-level sessions will take place on Feb. 21 and March 21, thanks to a collaborative pilot project between an organization called Soldier On along with Manitoba Model Builders club and Hobby Sense store.
Darryl Audette, co-founder of Manitoba Model Builders, came up with the idea to offer model-building workshops as a type of therapy for retired and returning veterans of all ages.
"Manitoba Model Builders and Hobby Sense have several vets as members and customers, and they are always very supportive, offering assistance to help each other and new modellers," said Audette, a Westwood resident.
"Model-building is a fantastic way to improve both physical and mental strength, and develop the ability to overcome difficulties and build confidence together with fellow vets and good instructors in a safe and fun atmosphere."
Manitoba Model Builders offers ongoing workshops for its members through Hobby Sense (845 Dakota St.), but this will be the first time the model-building workshops will be offered in collaboration with Soldier On.
Since 2007, Soldier On has been providing resources for veterans and serving members to adapt to mental health and physical injury or illness.
Dan Whittaker, regional co-ordinator for Soldier On in Manitoba, said the workshops will provide an opportunity for veterans, as well as for ill or injured Canadian Armed Forces personnel, to develop new skills that can be used as part of their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
"Active participation in creative activities has also been known to improve both physical and mental health. That’s why Soldier On recently decided to also explore creative activities as an additional platform to promote an active and healthy lifestyle," Whittaker said.
"This resulted in Soldier On conducting a nationwide creative activity pilot project with Winnipeg, Manitoba, being chosen to conduct the model-building pilot."
Experienced model builders say the activity helps reduce anxiety, depression and stress, Whittaker adds.
"Spending a couple of hours putting together or painting your model can clear your mind and leave you in a better state than when you began. These sessions will provide an opportunity for Soldier On members to connect with peers who share similar interests and challenges," he said.
"Model-building can improve certain cognitive skills such as hand-eye co-ordination, concentration and executive functions such as planning, organizing and paying attention to detail. Straight up, model-building makes you happy and improves your quality of life."
For Audette, the endless options can create a personal connection to the projects.
"Model-building offers an unlimited variety of levels of detail and intricacy for each person to choose from," he said.
"Each vet can choose a model subject and scale that he or she likes, such as cars, airplanes, ships. Many choose the specific vehicle, plane or ship they served on in peace or war times."
The hobby offers flexibility through the array of tools, paints and accessories that can be used to build, paint and finish the model. Participants will receive a tool kit, paints and model kit provided by Soldier On and Hobby Sense.
"Model-building can build confidence very early on because you are actually making something," said Audette, a professional designer who will teach and develop the workshops.
"It gives you a sense of accomplishment, pride, and you have something tangible at the end. It’s far more fulfilling than being on a phone or keyboard for hours with nothing to show for it at the end."
The current plan is to host the sessions virtually. If pandemic restrictions change to allow small groups to meet, the workshops might be held in person at Hobby Sense.