Twyla Nichols

2023 Invisible Champion Award - Nova Scotia/Halifax

Nominator Comments:

Twyla recognizes that the children and families who come to the YWCA’s Spryfield Early Learning Centre come from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. As a result, Twyla makes a tremendous effort to ensure that the foods she prepares and that all children enjoy are culturally appropriate and represent the different communities of our families. When, for example, the YWCA was closed for a day of solidarity and action on anti-Black racism, she went to the African grocer to learn new meals for some of the African families at our centre. “Inclusion means representation,” said Twyla. “That includes on a plate. And having your peers understanding and enjoying food that you eat at home.” Twyla is an avid learner and loves to be a part of various initiatives on food security. She has completed a nutrition degree while at the YWCA, was our previous Food First and Mobile Food Market coordinator, and continues to mentor others on the role that childcare centres can play in establishing positive relationships to diverse foods for children from an early age. For example, she is presently participating in an applied research project Celebrate Feeding ( informing the work of academics at MSVU and UPEI. Twyla also understands that many of the families who use the centre lived below the poverty line. She is passionate about having children appreciate healthy food on a fixed budget. In the past, she has even run cooking programs for parents to teach them some of the foods their children are already enjoying at the centre; setting up whole families for success. Twyla’s love for her role extends far beyond herself. For many years, her youngest son Braedon volunteered with his mom, carrying in groceries, stacking foods, cleaning the kitchen, salting the walkway in the morning before others arrive. Twyla’s love of her role and the YWCA is infectious. When asked what she sees as the mission of the YWCA, Twyla told me a story: Once when she was at a party, she walked into a room where a woman, who was unconscious, was about to be assaulted. She kicked out the would-be assailant and sat with the woman until she was confident she was lucid, awake, and safe. “This,” she said, “is the YWCA. We sit with her until we know she is OK.” This is the perspective that guides Twyla’s work and why she is an exceptional candidate for this award.

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