Several groups in Winnipeg are sharing free activity kits with parents for their young children.
As parents struggle to keep their children entertained, several parent groups are finding ways to help youngsters engage with play. Community groups, parent coalitions, and study groups are giving the kits away for specific purposes or neighbourhoods.
Partnering with Art City, West Broadway Community Organization is creating a choose-your-own-adventure style activity week, starting Monday.
Their three activities, a Snow Competition, Ice Rink Art Show!, and Yeti's Word Scramble all are encouraging participants to enjoy the winter-themed activities.
Those participating are encouraged to send pictures of their creations to firstname.lastname@example.org to enter to win prizes.
The St. James-Assiniboia Parent Child Coalition has created a Winter Walk to encourage families to explore local parks and take part in a scavenger hunt, games, and other activities, starting Monday.
A study from the University of Manitoba is hoping to give 800 families activity kits as part of a study.
"Wellness activities are also included for both caregivers and their families, as we want to ensure families take care of themselves during these difficult times," founding member and project director of the ToyBox project Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk says. Skwarchuk is a professor and development studies director at the University of Winnipeg.
The ToyBox project is being created with the University of Winnipeg and the help of parents, educators, and university and high school students to improve children's numeracy, literacy, and wellness. The Toybox testers will be given three activities a week, focussing on literacy on Mondays, wellness on Wednesdays, and numeracy on Fridays. The six-week study ends in March.
"ToyBox testers will be asked what they thought of the activities. They will also be asked to complete a questionnaire at the end of the project, which will help us to determine the overall merits of the project."
Each activity takes between 30 seconds and five minutes and those participating are encouraged to evaluate. Those who do their final survey will receive a $10 gift card to a local business.
Securing close to $14,000 from the Safe at Home grant, the program creating "fun and free activities for caregivers and their two- to eight-year-old children," the group aims to bring their total number of kits distributed from 200 to 800.
Spence Neighbourhood Association is working to keep neighbourhood kids entertained at home. Weekly kits filled with puzzles, art activities, recreation equipment, books, and science workbooks and experiments are being handed out to children out of the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre. Winter goods such as toques and mittens are also being handed out.
"We hope the kits inspire kids to learn and create, help them cope with stress, connect them to others, remove barriers to outdoor recreation, meet immediate needs and help families bond while they stay safe at home with their children," Building Belonging co-ordinator Allison Besel says.
Examples of previous activities from the group include:
- slime-making and gingerbread houses from partners at the University of Winnipeg’s Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre
- reading activity kits from the Winnipeg Public Library
- tie-dye T-shirts
- letter writing to families and friends,
- matching kids with bikes, helmets and locks from WRENCH, a charity focusing on empowering people to cycle
Spence Neighbourhood Association is also collecting skates to hand out so children can use the community rink. Students at John M. King and Sister MacNamara schools are all eligible for the kits.
They are also working with Art City to distribute The Emergency Comic Book Super Kit.
The group has also created a Food Around the World program for children and teens ages 12-17.
Young children in Charleswood and Tuxedo can receive free creative play kits from Assiniboine South Early Years Coalition.
"The focus of the group is to create opportunities for parents and children to participate in quality programming together. We also let people know what’s out there for parenting resources," Anita Preston, one half of the duo behind the coalition says. "Essentially, we’d like to meet on Zoom so they could pick up a kit and we could do some things together. But for now, we just want to get people interested and picking up the kits."
Their free kits offer a snack, a craft, stories and poems, and a parent/child activity. The free kits require registration via email, email@example.com, and can be picked up at the Westgrove Family Resource Centre.
The St. Boniface Parent-Child Coalition's free activities are popular with its neighbourhood families as most of its programs are full weeks before the date. They typically host a Book Bags Program encouraging reading. Spots for their February activities, a Valentine's Day Pancake Brunch and Craft party, and a cookie decorating kit, all have been filled weeks in advance.