Medicine Hat’s Sanare Centre is helping families connect, learn and have fun together with Bonding Bingo, a free six-week shared activity program.
“Bonding Bingo is a program we’ve put together to help parents or caretakers and children of all ages bond,” Sanare’s executive director, Christina Johnson, said.
First introduced last year, the program provides participants a bingo card listing 24 activities they can enjoy together, such as riding the Medicine Hat Trolley, having a sandcastle making competition or creating a summer reading list.
While the activities prioritize fun and create discussion topics for children and parents/caretakers, they also facilitate social-emotional learning.
“We know children lost approximately two years of social-emotional learning during COVID, based on school closures, etc.,” said Johnson. “So this program is a very fun way for parents and children to help bond and rebuild that. And the beautiful thing about social-emotional learning is it’s good for everyone.”
Johnson believes participation in the program not only helps children learn, it also helps foster a healthy relationship between children and their family members.
“The basis of social-emotional learning is, if I know you hurt just like me, I am less likely to hurt you,” Johnson said. “I’m also more likely to recognize when something is hurting me or you. (So) there’s a lesson in it.”
As parents and caretakers are often the primary educators for children, Johnson says, having them partake in activities which facilitate social-emotional learning, helps improve the overall dynamic between the parent/caretaker and the child.
Despite specializing in programming and support services for individuals who have experienced extreme abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse, Sanare’s Bonding Bingo program is open to all.
“We’ve heard from a lot of parents when we ran it before that it’s a fun program,” Johnson said. “And that it was so nice to pack up the car during the summer and have something to do.”
Bonding Bingo runs until Aug. 22. Johnson encourages anyone interested in participating to visit the centre’s website for more information or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
She also recommends they sign up for the Bonding Bingo email letter, which provides tips and tricks about familial bonding, something centre staff can also help with.
As the program is designed for families, including youth under the age of 18, there is no gambling involved. Instead, Johnson says the reward for those who get a B-I-N-G-O is adventure, cherished memories and a healthy, loving relationship.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News