We can Count on Each Other in 2019!

Worth repeating…

This blog was distributed as the year-end message to our network in December. We can’t say thanks enough so here it is again for anyone who missed it in their inbox!

By Beth Williams, Our Kids Network Communications Manager

Our Kids Network people are creating a hopeful future for Halton children and youth. In 2018 we saw steady progress and it’s clear in our many initiatives and activities that, as a network, we are more connected and aligned in our work. We are intentional when putting knowledge into practice, and we are seeing the results in our data, planning and action going forward.

Thank you for your contributions throughout 2018. As Our Kids Network, we have much to be proud of and we can count on each other continue to be as involved and committed in 2019 as we were in 2018!

2018 Highlights: Our Kids Network’s Committees and Community-based Groups

Acton Early Years 4th Annual Kindergarten Fun Fair at Prospect Park on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Relationships Help Us Sink or Swim! Eastview PS student video on how relationships with family, friends and peers make a difference in their lives.

Data is Delicious! Rudy the turnip explains why it’s so important for community members to do surveys so children, youth and families can thrive.

Kids are Excited to Start School and to Connect, Play and Learn, Every Day! 1300 activity bags were given to new students at kindergarten and community events.

2015-2016 Tell Them From Me / OurSCHOOL surveys give us important knowledge about the wellbeing of children and youth in Halton. Elementary  Secondary

Youth Voices Matter! The North Oakville Youth Development Council (NOYDC), established by youth and aided by adult allies, engaged the community in creating positive change in the neighbourhood and beyond.

Asset-Builders Tell their Stories. Five Halton asset-builders tell their exceptional stories about what building assets means to them.

Learn much more about Our Kids Network on our website.

HO HO HOLD Everything!

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Manager

It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of the holidays.  We can get overwhelmed with all the ads, decorations…and our children coming up with lists of “things” they want for the holidays. Let’s slow it down for a moment and reflect on what the holidays really mean to you.

How your holidays will look, sound and feel this year is up to you. You can choose what is really important and how you want to celebrate it.

Some considerations for when you’re making plans…

Spending lots of money?                    OR                   Spending lots of time with loved ones?

Most stressful time of year?                OR                   Most meaningful time of year?

House full of decorations?                  OR                   House full of family and friends?

Giving gifts from the store?                 OR                   Giving gifts from the heart?

A time to clash with family?                 OR                   A time to build or repair relationships?

Focus on getting?                               OR                   Focus on giving?

Eating lots of food?                             OR                   Sharing lots of food?

Standing in line?                                 OR                   Standing up for what you believe in?

Counting gifts?                                    OR                   Counting blessings?

In thinking about our work with Developmental Relationships, let’s make some space for relationships to thrive through the holidays and all year round.

Express Care                          Invite someone who is alone to your table.

Challenge Growth                   Continue an old family tradition or start a new one.

Provide Support                      Find a charity and commit to it as a family.

Share Power                           Encourage the children to help in menu planning.

Expand Possibilities                Visit and explore a small town in Ontario.

Kids hugging thier grandpa

For more information about Developmental Relationships and asset-building, visit www.ourkidsnetwork.ca/Relationships

 

 

Acton Early Years Committee: “The Heart of the Matter”

By Alison Hilborn, Our Kids Network Acton Community Hub Coordinator

Around the Acton Early Years Committee table, making a positive difference in children’s lives is what we all want.  We want young children in Acton to grow and flourish, and ultimately become successful, happy adults.  We work towards this vision through the many strong partnerships around the table. Over the past four years we’ve met once a month. We’ve brainstormed, discussed, critically analyzed, grown closer, and developed supportive, mindful relationships – relationships with “heart”.

It’s important to recognize that the partners on this committee come from organizations that have their own mandates, and yet these organizations all see the tremendous value in working together to bring change for the good to the community, and to young children and their families. We’re grateful for these Halton organizations* that support their staff to participate at the Acton Early Years Committee table. The benefits from their knowledge, expertise and perspectives on child development and this community’s unique needs are invaluable. We’ve progressed from speculating on possible solutions to grounding our discussions and actions in experiential learning, best practice efforts, and strategies.

It’s easy to see how our evidence-based initiatives that support young Acton children reflect the heart and creativity of the Acton Early Years Committee:

  • Fine and gross motor skill activity kits that respond directly to the Early Development Initiative (EDI) vulnerabilities.
  • Annual Kindergarten Fun Fairs to engage with new parents and to provide necessary service support information.
  • Connect, Play & Learn Every Day! Messaging that speaks directly to parents.

We know it will take more time, and lots of hard work, to improve on current EDI results, but the Acton Early Years Committee is dedicated!  We will use our partnerships, what we’ve learned, and our “heart” to continue to work toward addressing the underlying factors that impact young children’s developmental readiness for school – and to ensure that, in Acton, all children thrive!

Approximately 280 people attended the 2018 Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair including 89 brand, new kindergarten children!

 

*Acton Early Years Committee

Halton Catholic District School Board

St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School

Halton District School Board

McKenzie-Smith Bennet School

Robert Little Public School

Halton Region, Children’s Services and Healthy Families

The Halton Resource Centre

Reach Out Centre for Kids ROCK

The Town of Halton Hills

Community Living North Halton,

YMCA of the GTA

Links2Care – EarlyON

Halton Hills Libraries

Halton Children’s Aid Society

Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair 2018

By Alison Hilborn, Our Kids Network Acton Community Hub Coordinator

Once again, our Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair on Wednesday, August 29, was a big success!

Acton Family Fair 2018

The question is… How do we measure success? Well…

    • It didn’t rain.
    • Approximately 280 people participated.
    • Approximately 80 activity bags and t-shirts were given to children going into junior kindergarten.
    • Agency representatives all said that they were very, very busy talking to and sharing information with the fair-goers.
    • We receive tremendous support from our community for this event:
    • Thank you to…
      • MapleLodge Farms, Halton Hills Fire Department, Halton Police, First Student Bus Service who supported the fair with donations and their time.
      • Rotary Club of Acton, who were on the grill for us again this year.
      • Town of Halton Hills for waiving the fees for the park and the benches.
      • McKenzie-Smith Bennett, Robert Little and St. Joseph’s Catholic school and their parent councils for providing financial support and support in general for all of our activities. We could not do this without you!
      • All our amazing volunteers for all of your help!!
    • And finally…
      • I heard the same phrase again and again: “We’re a well-oiled machine!” The event was set up with tons of time to spare and the take-down was just as efficient.

     

Please take some time to get the details of the day and look at the great pictures here.

 

Back to School Weather Report

By Nikki Taylor, Senior Manager, Early Years and Family Supports,                Oakville Parent-Child Centre

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

These powerful words from psychologist, teacher and author, Dr. Hiam Ginott are worthy of reflection as our children, teachers and parents head back to the school routine. While Dr. Ginott is referencing the role of teachers, I believe it is equally appropriate for anyone who has the privilege of influencing the growth and development of our children.

I was reminded of this quote after spending some time with my 7 and 10 year-old grandchildren recently. We chatted for a while and finally came around to the “getting-ready-for-school” conversation. The 7 year-old was nervously anticipating the first day as many children do, not yet knowing who her teacher or classmates would be. My oldest granddaughter explained excitedly that her teacher was new to the school, but as it turned, out she had made an assumption. Later in the day, we ran into a friend who explained that this teacher had married over the summer. She was not new to the school. I was taken aback by the instant change in my granddaughter’s demeanor – from excited and happy to quiet and thoughtful. When we were alone, I asked her about the change in her behaviour. She explained that this teacher was well known for raising her voice often. As a sensitive and empathetic child, this creates a distressing climate for my granddaughter, and she was worried. To protect her heart, I told her that when an adult behaves badly, it’s not about the children, but about the adult.

I’ m not here to judge nor condemn educators or parents. I am both, and have certainly raised my voice from time to time. We are all human after all. However, as I reflect on my own behaviour, I realize that outbursts are not a conscious choice and have little or nothing to do with others, and are more about inner feelings. Stress, in particular, hijacks our logical brain, impulse control, and self-regulation skills; leaving us under the power of our emotional brain. Did you know that children often misinterpret expressions of stress on adult faces, as anger? I can’t help but wonder what children see and how they feel as they look to each of us for understanding, support, patience, and care given the levels of stress many of us live with.

When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to care for others. What if we worked harder to create a climate for ourselves, each other, and for children, that allows us to feel secure, respected, safe and loved, rather than criticized, judged and overworked?

Caring teachers and family

 

I hope that this short reflection will help us, as adults raising and working with children, to create a climate of acceptance, tolerance and trust for children and youth to thrive.