BY: KATHY MCDONALD
It is hard to believe that the 2016/17 school year has come to an end. Across the province, many school boards are winding down for this academic year. In light of the recent tragedy involving a student from C.W. Jefferies I would first like to express my condolences to the family then encourage everyone to go to your local YMCA, city’s recreational centre or private swim schools and learn to swim or at a bare minimum learn about water safety. This is a very important skill to have. Make this a summer where your children continue learning. Learning can be fun and it can also be disguised in many ways.
In Brampton, there is a myriad of free activities. They range from relaxing and taking in the delightful sounds of gospel choirs or concert bands with a series of outdoor concerts in the park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to biking. On Tuesdays, the concerts feature religious music while on Thursdays they have an eclectic line-up of artists. There are also outdoor movies at recreational centres weather permitting during the months of July and August. The Brampton Cycling Advisory Committee (BCAC) is offering cycling adventures. Come and discover your city as a family. In Brampton, the City runs a program called Priceless Playgrounds. At local parks, the city runs free structured play activities. Again the programs run from July and August and will continue as long as your children show up and mother nature cooperates. This particular program is for kids aged seven to thirteen. All the necessary sports equipment is provided. The details of the nuances, activities, as well as the location of the various programs and neighbourhood parks, can be found on the city’s website. There are various splash pads across the city that are opened daily and they are also free.
Canada 150 celebrations are continuing across the GTA. Many of these events are free. Search the web and you will be surprised what local museums have to offer. In Brampton, we have a gem in PAMA, The Peel Art Gallery, Museum, and Archives. Admission is free for July and August. On Saturday, July 15th there is a Family Fun Day. There is also a Peel 150 Stories Exhibit where residents of Peel and PAMA are “excited to honour Peel and Canadian history and want to encourage our community to explore and learn through FREE general admission”.
Around the GTA are many street festivals and carnivals. What better way to teach kids of Caribbean ancestry about their heritage? Have you ever considered participating in Kiddies Carnival? If yes, just google information on joining a band. If no, why not take in the sights. The festival takes place on July 22nd at Nelson Park in Toronto. Many of our children don’t know if they are fish or fowl. Several studies will tell you how important it is that people have a great understanding and appreciation for their culture. Such knowledge serves to enhance and embolden people, especially students. In my work as a Trustee, I have often sought as a remedy to “difficult children” connecting them with a mentor who is committed to teaching the individual about their history and roots. In the near future, such cultural activities will be embedded in the curriculum of the Peel District School Board (PDSB). Believe me, when I tell you in most case behaviour issues are significantly reduced or halted altogether. In one instance a Jamaican foster family embarked on a journey with their Indigenous foster child. After learning together about Aboriginal history, truth and reconciliation, researching and designing a regalia and participating in pow wows and other activities the teen in less than one year changed from being a “bully” to being a leader. I say it’s a win-win for all, the staff, teachers, students and the community. Harbour Front, as well as several other venues, have summer outdoor concert series that are great for the family to attend on weekends and the cost involved can be kept to a minimum; gas and/or a bus ticket.
The PDSB has coding sessions as well as camp SAIL or the Free For All Foundation Camps, and other activities that are free or at a minimal cost. The United Achievers Club has a six-week camp which is at a minimal cost of $360 for the summer. Included in this are trips to African Lion Safari, museums, Wet and Wild, Pioneer Village. Jumpstart or in Brampton, Active Assist will provide financial support for fees and equipment if you qualify. Visit an educational store or even your local dollar store and purchase some workbooks that your children can do a few pages each day to keep their noggins oiled so when they return to school they would have minimal loss of knowledge.
Wherever you may live, take the time to research about activities or camps that may benefit your child. The classic case of knowledge attrition does not have to occur. I would encourage parents to get into a routine. Especially establishing a wake-up routine as well as a bedtime ritual. I would strongly discourage binge gaming and excessive social media access. There is a myriad of activities both free, subsidized and otherwise. Such activities build self-esteem, self-confidence and will enhance your child’s development both spiritually, mentally and physically. So journey with me and make summer 2017 a true adventure for your children. Be Safe. Walk Good. Belle Marche.