May 10, 2022
Dominika Siemiatkowska, Community Health Program Coordinator – Health Promotion
For some children, being indoors for prolonged periods can be rather difficult; especially when the space designated for indoor play is limited or when there is no access to equipment or grounds large enough for activities like sports or gross motor. As a Community Health Program Coordinator in Health Promotion with SCHC, I am witness to the fact that many of the families we serve in Scarborough are living in small spaces with limited indoor play resources. Many parents have young children and are looking for ways to keep them happy and busy. At a time when we are asked to stay at home, children do not have access to parks and facilities to exert their energy to maintain their wellbeing.
During a time of change and uncertainty, it is considerably important for children to have a sense of security and normalcy, in particular, for healthy distractions to occupy them. Of course, every so often, to also give parents and caregivers a well-deserved break.
Last year in April 2019, I spent the long weekend visiting with my extended family and good friends! It was a jam packed weekend full of loud and cheerful children playing, breaking bread and great company. It doesn’t seem that long ago when holidays were spent with other people, other than the people we live with of course. And yet, we did it, we just got through our first statutory holiday, during a global pandemic. Let us congratulate ourselves on following our public health guidelines to keep safe and stay home. #AloneTogether we will flatten the curve.
The Woburn Local Planning Table (LPT), a resident-led group, reached out to local agencies to support families of Woburn Jr Public School, living in non-Toronto Community Housing apartment buildings, as many of the children have not been out of their apartments since the lockdown began. They were looking for support to keep their children healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Maddy MacNab from the East Scarborough Storefront joined the dots and made the connection between grassroots leaders and local partner agencies, Toronto Public Health (TPH) and SCHC. When Amra Acimovic from TPH got this initiative on our radar on March 30th, the collaborations began and SCHC responded immediately!
In early March, SCHC was the lucky benefactor of a generous donation of Boxes of Sunshine to our SCHC EarlyON Child and Family Centre from a grassroots initiative developed by a stay-at-home mom wanting to help other families. These boxes provided puzzles, games, books and activities for families to do together. Fate was smiling on all of us to be able to share these when they were needed the most.
Behind the scenes at SCHC, we had a great time inventorying supplies and resources to support these families. We took the lead from Nita Goswami and Leah Yuyitung, both of whom are resident leaders and members of the Woburn LPT; they worked with parent volunteers to distribute the activities to approximately 85 families and over 150 children ages 1-12yrs. Just in time for the long weekend, what joy!
“I am deeply appreciative of the overwhelmingly generous and immediate response from local organizations to offer their support to our families during this crisis. We are grateful to SCHC’s EarlyON Child and Family Centre & Health Promotion Team, A Box Full of Sunshine, ESBGC and Leacock Foundation for donating activity books, story books, board games, toys and pencil kits” Leah Yuyitung & Nita Goswami
A big thank you to our SCHC team that pulled this off with such a quick turnaround time. To Jennifer Botelho for her sheer eagerness in working together and gathering and allocating all of the activities and additional resources, to Munisa Kadodia from EarlyON & Stanley Lafaille from the Adult Day Centre for helping to load these boxes on April 7th, to Shivana Sankar, Community Services Manager for providing gift cards and to Lori Beesley, Coordinator of Volunteer Engagement & Student Placement for acting as the camera person and snapping pictures of the group loading the van filled with boxes previously donated from “A Box Full of Sunshine”.
Team work makes the dream work!
“We graciously serve our community and want to bring a ray of light & joy into the hearts of little humans and their families. We hope these items help find aid, strength and comfort in these uncertain times!” Jennifer Botelho, Coordinator of EarlyON Child and Family Centre, SCHC
Looking through all of the wonderful photos of the children that came in with special notes of thanks to us was incredibly heartwarming and an experience that we will cherish at SCHC. These moments, connections and memories made has us smiling from ear to ear.
For me, personally, I have a lot of gratitude for the work I do, the clients we serve, the partnerships strengthened through these collaborative efforts. I’m proud of the dedicated people I work alongside with at SCHC. This story was a combination of heart and teaming up with resident leaders like Nita and Leah who have been instrumental in getting supports and resources to the Woburn community, as well, to the countless parent volunteers that worked hard to organize the activities and distribute them to families. Proving that we can do so much more when we work together!
Wishing you all good health. Stay home and wash your hands.