Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair 2017

Kids have Fun while  Parents Learn about Early Child Development

By Alison Hilborn, Our Kids Network Acton Community Hub Coordinator

The Acton Early Years Committee just celebrated the 3rd Annual Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair at Prospect Park on Wednesday, August 30th. There were free hot dogs, fun activities, early year’s resources and t-shirts for the children! Over 270 people attended and the weather held out for us. It was great to see the all the children wearing shirts with “I’m an awesome Acton Kid” printed on the front and a list of helpful resources for families on the back.

This event is designed to be a ‘community welcome’ to Acton families who have children going into Kindergarten for the first time. A convenient, central location like Prospect Park makes it easy for families to attend.

We want them to know that all the elementary schools in Acton are working together by supporting our event each year. Each school hung a banner in the band shell with fun props so families could take their child’s picture with their new school’s banner behind them.

This event is also a response to the concerning number of children going into Kindergarten with one or more vulnerabilities according to the latest Early Development Instrument results. For example, one of the highest vulnerabilities is in the area of fine and gross motor skills. That’s one reason we offer so many active activities at our Fun Fair – to help increase awareness of the importance of early child development, particularly in the area of fine and gross motor skills, among our families.


“Awesome Acton” kids had lots of fun as they tried out games and activities designed to build the fine and gross motor skills that will help them be better prepared to start Kindergarten.


The Acton Early Years Committee and our partners really want to decrease the EDI number significantly but it’s going to take time and lots of hard work, especially when it comes to reaching parents with preschool children. On a positive note, the committee is well represented by organizations that are focused on early child development, so Acton is in good hands. We’re a strong team and we work hard on behalf of Acton families. The Acton Fun Fair is just one of the ways that we support children and their families.

To learn more about the Acton Early Years Committee, contact Alison Hilborn at actonhub@ourkidsnetwork.ca.

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Good-bye Fast and Processed Foods: Learning to Cook from Scratch!

By Jennifer Jenkins-Scott, Health Promoter, Healthy Families Division of Halton Region Health Department

When was the last time you made a meal from scratch? A whole meal, prepared using fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs?

Parents today are so busy that they often rely on fast or processed foods for ease and convenience. But the trade-off is that these foods are much higher in fat, sugar and salt. Eating these types of foods frequently can put children at risk of developing chronic diseases. There is also a lost opportunity for family time together in the kitchen and for children to learn the enjoyment and skill of cooking.

Research has shown that improving children’s food skills in the kitchen results in higher vegetable and fruit consumption for the whole family! “Our Kids Eat Well”, a new Our Kids Network work group with a focus on promoting healthy eating in fun and interesting ways, has launched “You’re the Chef!”.

You’re the Chef! Learning to Cook for 10 to 17-year-olds
Numerous Our Kids Network community organizations have been trained to deliver a four-session program to children and youth 10 to 17 years-old, on how to prepare fruit and vegetable dishes.

This valuable “You’re the Chef!” program teaches youth how to read a recipe, measure ingredients, chop, fry and bake. Learning these important skills and having fun at the same time builds confidence and the skills to prepare fruit and vegetable dishes in their own homes for themselves and their families.

The initiative started in May and runs until the end of December. It will be evaluated for its effectiveness in preparing the trainers, and in teaching cooking skills to children and youth. Ideas on how to expand the program to more age- groups, communities, and organizations will be considered 2018. Additional initiatives will also be developed to continue to build our focus on strengthening food literacy in Halton.

If you’re interested in learning more about the “You’re the Chef!” initiative, contact Jennifer Jenkins-Scott, Health Promoter, Healthy Families Division of Halton Region Health Department at Jennifer.Jenkins-Scott@Halton.ca

Happy Birthday Canada! Top 10 reasons why Canada is a Great Asset-Builder!

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Manager

Asset-building in Halton has evolved and now encompasses Developmental Assets, Family Assets and Relationships. We don’t need to look any further than our own country for great examples of asset-building:

  1. Canada knows that small things like pond hockey, neighbourhood barbeques and nature walks make a big difference.
  2. Canada is a caring and responsible role model for other countries.
  3. Canada plays nicely and builds strong and respectful friendships with other countries.
  4. Canada understands that health, education and safety are important.
  5. Canada’s music, arts and dance scene is celebrated and supported.
  6. Canada welcomes and embraces people’s differences. It strives to create environments where people belong.
  7. Canada resolves conflicts peacefully.
  8. Canada offers adventure and new experiences through its beautiful landscapes and its unpredictable weather patterns.
  9. Canada practices democracy and freedom of speech. Communication in Canada is very polite.
  10. Canada likes itself. It is valued by others as a great destination and is highly embraced by others when it travels.

Canada didn’t get like this by accident. It was the work of careful and intentional planning in an environment of partnership and collaboration. For Canada’s birthday this year, let’s reflect on the strengths that make us all a great asset-builders for Halton kids.

Happy Birthday Canada and keep up the great work!

For more information, resources and ideas about asset-building, visit the Asset-Building Toolkit.

Follow us @OurKidsNetwork #ABOKN17

150 ways to show kids you care! Canada Day and every day! http://bit.ly/1PAppsy

Father’s Day is a Special Occasion to let Children know the Importance of Family

By Bruce Callan

Bruce and Kathie Callan just celebrated their 23rd anniversary. As a blended family, they have two boys and two girls from previous marriages who are now 25 to 43-years-old, and three grandchildren. They are a proud foster family that has cared for many teens in the past five years, and are looking forward to their next experience of providing a loving home to a young person at a time of need.

When I was asked to write a blog about Father’s Day, I looked back at my childhood and remembered my father as the head of our family. He would spend time with my brother and me, taking us to Judo and hockey. We were taught responsibility by making sure that our chores were done. If we didn’t complete our chores, we would face consequences, but when our work was done our time was free to spend as we liked. We had great family vacations going fishing, travelling on a boat for a week at a time, or going to Myrtle Beach.

Today, I have two wonderful daughters and three grandchildren who are very much a part of my everyday life. Two of my proudest days as a father were when my two daughters got married. On each occasion, I walked them down the aisle to give them away. Last summer, my oldest daughter and her family spent a week at our family cottage with my wife and me. It was a wonderful time for everyone – going on boat cruises and playing on the beach near our cottage.

As a family, we make sure that we are all together for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and many other special occasions. Father’s day is another of these very special occasions when we express the importance of family, being together, and supporting each other.

We are also a foster family and, as a foster parent, I have tried to be a father figure for the many children who have come into our lives. I believe each and every child who has lived with our family is better for having spent time with my wife, myself, our children, and grandchildren. We try to help each child who comes to us understand how a family should be there for each other.

One of my proudest memories is of an email message I received last year from one of the children who lived with us:

“Happy Father’s Day Bruce! Thanks so much for everything. You’ve been a huge father figure to me, to the point where I’d call you Dad! One day isn’t enough for me to tell you that you’re very special in my life. I’ve got a big spot for you in my heart, thanks for being the best guy to me! Love you and hope to see you soon! Give Kathie a big hug for me.”

So this Father’s Day, let’s make sure that we reach out to our fathers and our families and make it a special day for everyone.

Families Matter
The Family Assets framework takes Developmental Assets to a deeper level. These assets are the everyday interactions, values, skills and relationships families can focus on to help them thrive. In good times and challenging times, children, teens, parents, and other family members all play a part. Read more

 

A Mother’s Day Message

By Kathleen Callan

Kathleen and Bruce Callan just celebrated their 23rd anniversary. As a blended family, they have two children each from previous marriages, two boys and two girls, who are now 25 to 43-years-old, and three grandchildren. They are a proud foster family that has cared for many teens in the past five years, and are looking forward to their next experience of providing a loving home to a young person at a time of need. 


Oprah Winfrey once proclaimed that, “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”

Although biology may be a component, it does not necessarily have to be. Mothers are women who embrace children to become part of their lives and live in their very souls. They nurture children –  whether their biological child; a niece; a nephew; a grandchild; a distant relative; an adopted child, a foster child, or a child who is in need and is embraced simply when paths cross.  Mothers are women who are there for us at all times when no one else will do. They nurture us through our years to help us become stronger, brighter, and happier human beings. They pick us up when we fall. They seem to know when we need them, and when we can manage on our own. They teach us values to live by even when we don’t want to listen. They are our strength when we need them most. They stand beside us when the world seems too big for us to bear. They give us strength to keep trying. They listen to all our stories with intent, no matter how silly they are. They are our rock, our confidant, our grounding, and our sanctuary.

All too often, mothers sacrifice their own desires to give us ours. Some say it is a thankless job, but as a mother myself, I beg to differ. The times I have spent with my children span the good, the bad and the really ugly, but I am thanked every time I see my children succeed. I am grateful every time I see their excitement, enthusiasm, and awe of the world. It touches my soul to hear their laughter and breaks my heart to see them cry.

Even though I know I have given them the strength to get through all of life’s ordeals, I stand by each day in case my children need me because my love for them never ends. Now I watch from a distance and I see that they have the strength, the values and the perseverance to carry on. And the cycle of life repeats itself as I can see the values I instilled in my children built upon with their own children.

So, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, remember we are celebrating all those moms who have touched the hearts of children, and have helped them, or are helping them, to grow and become adults with aspirations, hopes and the will to succeed at whatever they set out to do.

So from one mom to many others “Happy Mother’s Day”!

“These two snowmobile daredevils are my granddaughter and me!
We love spending time together as a family. We had a blast that day in the snow at our cottage!”  -Kathleen Callan


Read more about the Callan family.

Celebrating the Vibrant Lives of Families Video 

Families are central to the positive development and success of children and youth and are at the heart of thriving communities. Three Halton families shared stories of challenges, successes and love in this special video. The Callans and their foster son, Kyle, are one of those special families. View the video.