Community Stories

SWEY Co-Hosted the 2nd I am a Parent Conference

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On March 21, 2015 SWEY co-hosted the I am a Parent Conference with Mill Woods Family Resource Centre and the Mill Woods Early Childhood Coalition.  We had anticipated that a ‘parenting’ conference would be popular in the Southwest but we were overwhelmed by the response and the support for the conference both from parents and caregivers but also from local businesses, organizations, and sponsors.  The conference filled quickly, and we were delighted to have approximately 150 parents/caregivers attend, plus forty children in our FREE onsite childcare.  With 40 or so volunteers, more than a dozen presenters, and 15 tables in our resource fair there was something for everyone.  The organizing committee wants to thank everyone for all of their support and we look forwarding to exploring ideas on what is next for the I am a Parent Conference!

K-Days Pancake Supper Hosted by MLA, Matt Jeneroux – Subcommunity K

On July 25, 2013, SWEY was welcomed by MLA, Matt Jeneroux, and his Constituency Assistant, Kara, to connect with constituents amidst the aroma of delicious pancakes.  Parents we met spoke highly of the family atmosphere and the feeling of safety they and their neighbours experience in their community.  In addition to sharing concerns similar to many SW Edmonton families such over things such as waiting lists for affordable and accessible childcare, parents told us about a unique challenge they face as residents in a newly established and growing area of the City – the lack of infrastructure supporting young children which results in frustration over

  • Lack of ‘space’ available to community members for establishing children’s play groups or parent networking opportunities
  • Lack of schools and other community supports that most other SW communities enjoy
  • Crossing the Anthony Henday to access services in other parts of the City – a challenge for families who don’t drive and one which lengthens their children’s days and generally reduces quality family time.

Everyone we chatted with is eager to support the development and establishment of early childhood resources in their area.

Many thanks to Matt for allowing us this opportunity to hear these unique concerns.  And a big thank you, too, to Heather S., a community member who joined us to lend a hand!

 

Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market – All SW Subcommunities

On July 24, 2013, SWEY was excited to connect with residents of many SW Edmonton subcommunities in the thriving and lively atmosphere of the Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market.  Some of the key themes arising in our conversations with parents included

  • An appreciation for
    • the Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre and the William Lutsky YMCA and the programming they provide,
    • Riverbend and Whitemud Crossing Libraries,
    • playgrounds and Green Shacks,
    • community green space and walking paths, and
    • the Farmers’ Market, of course.
  • Frustration with
    • Limited spaces in affordable, quality childcare and in preschools and elementary schools;
    • Limited childcare options for working parents whose children are in half-day kindergarten;
    • Difficulties in finding out what early childhood resources exist and where;
    • Limited capacity in available children’s programs (they’re in high demand and fill so quickly!);
    • Lack of children’s programming available in the evenings and on weekends for families where both parents work; and
    • A lack of children’s programming that would allow a parent to take children of different ages to activities concurrently.

We heard interest in, and enthusiasm for, starting up and supporting

  • moms’ and/or dads’ networking groups and children’s play groups, and
  • a resource network for families new to the area.

We had a wonderful time connecting with parents and hanging out with their children and we thank everyone who stopped by to chat!

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Lemonade City – Subcommunity C

On July 7, 2013, SWEY was invited to participate in Lemonade City – a celebration of the grand opening of No Frills and the first step in the rejuvenation of the Petrolia Mall property.  We had the opportunity to meet with a variety of community members – children, parents, grandparents, and childcare providers who share with us their appreciation for well-established community leagues, playgrounds and spray parks, green space, the Terwillegar Community Recreation Center and the William Lutsky YMCA, and community schools.  Recurring challenges included the struggle many families experience in trying to access early childhood resources – they know they’re out there but don’t know how to find them – and the overall desire for more children’s programs and services with more spaces, offered at more varied times.  Many suggestions for assisting young families were enthusiastically offered including

o   Locating programs and services such as indoor playgrounds (especially in winter)  in central hubs such as Southgate Shopping Centre for easy access;

o   A highly visible kiosk and/or website with a central ‘registry’ of early childhood supports, services and programs for one-stop ‘shopping’;

o   Translation of community newsletters and flyers into various languages to allow for better awareness of events, programs and services for newcomers and immigrant families; and

o   Involvement of junior and senior high school students in providing supports for young families such as babysitting and running errands.

Our Co-chair, Catherine, chats with a neighbourhood grandmother

Our Co-chair, Catherine, chats with a neighbourhood grandmother

Thank you to Michael Walters for inviting us to participate in this fun event.  And thanks to everyone who braved the rain to support the children and their entrepreneurial ventures and to share their thoughts with us! 

 

Parents’ Night Out and the Power of Play – Subcommunity E

In April 2013, Greenfield Community League opened its hall to SWEY to host a Parents’ Night Out on the Power of Play.  Cora Woodman spoke to us about the qualities of a good toy and offered some helpful tips on how to play with your child to help enhance development.  Parents shared their thoughts on the early childhood resources in Greenfield:

  • Wednesday morning coffee at the community league is a great way to get together for a morning out, share information about raising children, and just have fun
  • We’re lucky to have such a strong community league
  • The playground and splash pad are great for kids – but we could use a washroom!

Greenfield parents weren’t the only ones who attended, though.  We also heard from parents in other Southwest neighbourhoods such as

  • Aspen Gardens – we have great natural space
  • Brookview – we have great walking trails and lots of kids’ places like Café au Play, Music Together, and 4 Cats Art but we need more destinations within in walking distance and… where are all the kids – no one’s out?
  • Haddow – we have a nice, safe community with lots of park activities and good access to resources like the library and Peanut Butter and Jam playgroup in Riverbend
  • Keheewin –  we have great ethnic diversity and a great school
  • Southbrook – we have a nice creek and hiking and biking trails but we don’t have any activity opportunities like a tennis court, a recreation/fitness centre or a playground for older kids and we have no organized social groups or pick-up sports options
  • Sweet Grass – we have a nice insulated neighbourhood but safety is sometimes and issue because of wildlife and we don’t have any on-going moms’ groups for networking

Concerns shared by parents in all of these neighbourhoods included a need for

  • more child care and out-of-school care options and opportunities
  • more affordable childcare
  • more informal preschool and children’s drop-in activities because the Rec Centre programs fill up too fast

Does your community share any of these concerns?