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A Solution to the Epidemic of Loneliness

What is a Folk School and How Can They Help?

The Okanagan Folk School ( is a British Columbia nonprofit that brings people together to share skills, knowledge and life experiences. Workshops are taught by community members, visiting artists and makers. The Okanagan Folk School workshops encourage people to try new things, strengthen skills, and connect with each other.

Handcrafting classes and community gatherings have been proven to reduce feelings of isolation, build confidence, resiliency, and improve mental health. Skill sharing also promotes equity and a stronger social fabric.

The Directors of the Okanagan Folk School recognized the effects of loneliness and isolation in our society. In designing the structure of the folk school, they decided that one of the four pillars of the constitution would be “building community” through craft.

To Alleviate Loneliness, One Needs a Community.

The loneliness epidemic: How Social Isolation can Damage our Minds and Bodies.

Social isolation and loneliness have profound, detrimental impacts on health and are linked to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. They also increase the risk of premature mortality, comparable to obesity or smoking.

• The link between loneliness and physical health is well-established, with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention saying it can lead to dementia, heart disease, stroke and even premature death.

• Another survey by Statistics Canada in mid-2021 found that more than 40 per cent of Canadians feel lonely some or all of the time, with the problem worst among single people and those who live alone.

• Loneliness is not restricted to the elderly. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) found that Canadians between 18 and 39 years old reported the highest levels of moderate to severe anxiety, loneliness and feelings of depression of any age group.

• Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, released a report on May 2, titled

Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation’, stating that loneliness in the U.S. poses health risks as deadly as smoking a dozen cigarettes daily, costing the health industry billions of dollars annually.


Craft has been proven to help combat anxiety, depression, loneliness and even dementia.

The repetition of craft activities creates a meditative, quiet atmosphere while the required focus and attention provides a distraction from life’s stresses. Mindfulness plays a key role in reducing stress, coping with negative thoughts, and regulating feelings of upset or loneliness.

• Life is a richer experience, when we stop to connect with the people who are sitting next to us. Life is a richer thing, when we set down our phone and we pick up something with our hands, and we begin to shape beauty and literally shape our lives.

• The Okanagan Folk School is about providing a welcoming community where you make personal connections through traditional handcraft.

“When the imagination, the intellect, and the hands all come together to create something, there is a magic to it”. – Murray Wood, President, Okanagan Folk School

We Need your Help to Build Community and Alleviate Loneliness.

We will use your generous donation in the following manner:

• Purchase 2 canopy tents for outdoor classes in the park: $3000.

• Classroom rental for 12 months: $4200

• Website and social media marketing: $1800

• Social events with speakers and food: $4800

• For a donation of $50 or more you will receive a complimentary “Friend Membership” in the Okanagan Folk School and will be notified of upcoming workshops, events and receive our newsletter as well as a vote at our AGM.

• For a $75 dollar donation you will receive a “Crafting Member”. This provides the above benefits as well as discounts on workshops and events.

Thank you for your help building community to combat loneliness and sharing the joy of learning this winter.

Ways to Support Our Campaign:

1. Donate: Every dollar counts, and even a small contribution can make a big difference. Once you donate you will get a link for GoFundMe you can share with your database. Share it!

2. Share: Help us spread the word about our campaign by sharing it with your friends and on social media.

3. Volunteer: If you can't contribute financially, consider donating your time and skills to our cause.

4. Corporate Sponsorship: If you represent a business or organization, we welcome sponsorship opportunities.

5. Get Involved: Join our team or participate in our initiatives to create a hands-on impact.

About the Okanagan Folk School

The Okanagan Folk School ( was registered a British Columbia nonprofit April 13, 2021.

Since then, we have built a website, offered 132 workshops, taught 396 crafting students, hosted a number of community events, participated in the Peachland Farmers Market promoting our Artisans.

  • Supported the arts in our community in partnership with the Making Waves Mural Festival 2022 and 2023

  • Expanding regionally through instructor’s display at the Kelowna Rotary Centre of the Arts.

  • Local support for venues as we strive to find or build a home ie. local farm offers structure for woodworking classes, local chamber of commerce gives priority to OKFS on classroom rental.

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1 Comment

Enjoyed this article. I knew loneliness is a real issue among seniors, but I had no idea it was such an epidemic among younger people! Folk craft is such a great idea to combat it; to learn new skills and meet like-minded people.

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