NHCS granted use of Tudor and Cashel community centre for community playgroup

·5 min read

North Hastings Children’s Services requested the use of the Tudor and Cashel Community Centre free of charge on two Fridays in October and November from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for a community playgroup, according to a memo item in the township’s agenda package for its Sept. 6 council meeting. After discussing the issue, council voted to allow NHCS to use the community centre for the community playgroup for at least the remainder of 2022, when the program will be re-evaluated for possible extension into 2023.

At the Sept. 6 meeting, Mayor Libby Clarke introduced the motion to allow NHCS to use the community centre for a community playgroup. Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, said that Jessica Anderson, NHCS executive director, had sent her a letter on Sept. 2, saying they were looking to reach and connect with families in the Gilmour area by offering an EarlyON child and family program using Tudor and Cashel’s community centre. She said they were looking at the following dates; Oct. 28 and Nov. 25 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on both days. In December, they’d review participation and gauge whether they would continue on into 2023.

Anderson also requested that the rental fee be waived as it is a free program paid for by the province and flowed through Hastings County. She further stated that they hold sufficient insurance coverage and have experience using public spaces following public health guidelines.

Deputy Mayor Ronald Carroll asked who would let NHCS in to the building and Carrol replied that she could give them a key for access. Councillor Bob Bridger had a concern about whether there would need to be any cleaning done after the playgroups, and it was decided that that would need to be determined after the first session.

Carrol said that she used to bring her own kids to these playgroups when they were younger.

“So, they’ll bring in a bunch of toys and it is sometimes structured, but not always. Moreso, it is for the kids to socialize, come together and play together and the parents also get to come together. It’s a good program,” she says.

Clarke also thought it was a good learning experience for the kids and their families.

“It would be a great asset to our community to have it here,” she says.

Councillor Roy Reeds brought forth the motion to allow NHCS to use the community centre free of charge on the aforementioned dates, which was seconded by Bridger and passed by council.

NHCS is a charitable organization that provides quality services and supports to enhance the wellbeing of children and their families in partnership with their community. The EarlyON child and family centre programs offer help to parents, caregivers and children to find programs and services in a safe and welcoming environment. They can also find support, advice, personal connections and a network of resources.

Nicole Beaudin in the early years manager with NHCS and says that the EarlyON programs are funded by the Ministry of Education and are free and open to all families across North Hastings with children up to six years of age, offering quality programs, qualified professionals and a lot of free giveaways.

“We wanted to provide a safe and welcoming environment for families in the Tudor and Cashel area that can support families, caregivers and children to ask for advice, make personal connections and have a network of resources closer to home. Children can learn, play, laugh, be curious, make friends and engage with each other. It’s a place where they can build their sense of belonging and capacity for expression, enhance their own well-being and explore and engage with the world around them. We are looking at reaching families throughout the North Hastings area that have been serviced such as Tudor and Cashel, Lake St. Peter and Faraday,” she says.

Beaudin says that NHCS is thrilled to have the opportunity to use the Tudor and Cashel community centre for these community playgroups, which will help decrease transportation costs to families in the area with rising gas costs.

“The programs provide an opportunity for children to be connected to other service referrals in the community such as mental health, public health, developmental and speech and language. Evidence shows that taking part in early learning programs support all aspects of development that will help prepare children for school. We know it may take some time for the community to be aware of the services and we look forward to the new partnership with Tudor and Cashel,” she says.

Anderson says that they are encouraged by the support of Tudor and Cashel council in recognizing the value of early learning programs for the families in their region. She reveals that the calendar of EarlyON and Algonquin Inodewiziwin programs can be found at www.nhcs.ca/calendar.

“Without access to public spaces to operate our programs, we would not be able to offer the in-person support families really need at this time. With rising cost of living and transportation costs, travel can be a barrier to attend other EarlyON programs outside of their community. At this time, it is even more critical to provide socialization and connections to services that will improve quality of life for the children and their families who attend,” she says.

Carrol commented on council’s decision to permit NHCS usage of the community centre to The Bancroft Times on Sept. 8.

“The community centre is here for the community and this is the type of programming that should be encouraged. I feel that this is a great program and would like to see it flourish in the community.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times