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Saturday fun for young families

Family Parenting Place will host a free drop-in program for families with children aged 0-6

The Family Parenting Place in Agassiz will be opening its doors on Saturday mornings for a free family drop-in program.

The United Way Fraser Valley has given a grant of $6,500 to Agassiz-Harrison Community Services for the new program. Laura Midan, executive director of Agassiz-Harrison Community Services, is pleased with The United Way’s support.

“This program will allow Agassiz-Harrison Community Services to reach an audience of families not currently attending our regular Monday-Thursday programming due to employment commitments,” reports Midan. “The Saturday drop-in program will incorporate the principles of the Healthy Kids Initiative in addition to introducing client families to local sport and leisure activity.”

Healthy Kids Initiative is a set of principles authored by local healthcare practitioners outlining healthy lifestyle choices including active play and nutritious food.

The Saturday morning program will include games and sports that encourage active play between parents and children as well as a healthy breakfast for client families. Special guests will promote different sports and activities and a once a month field trip to centres of interest, such as the library or a farm, to help build a sense of community.

“The program will reduce social isolation for young families as they build connections with other families and experience activities within the community,” says Midan. “Families will be  more aware and benefit from increased knowledge about the community-based services, organizations and activities available.”

Wayne Green, executive director of United Way Fraser Valley, says it was of immediate interest when Midan’s proposal came into his office.

“They’re thinking out of the box,” says Green. “Their program was addressing something we really look at in early childhood development: hard-to-reach parents.”

He explains that quite often, projects will address families who face barriers such as transportation or finance. But this program will address another hard-to-reach group in working parents.

“They’re the parents who struggle the most because they are working one, two or three jobs to pay their bills. And who suffers? The kids because they can’t go to this programming [during the week],” explains Green.

Green says this is the fist time anyone in the Fraser Valley has requested funding for a project running on the weekend.

This year’s United Way Fraser Valley’s funding was significantly more than past year, jumping from $90,000 to $217,844. The Fraser Valley projects address poverty, homelessness and making sure young children are ready for school. While Agassiz-Harrison Community Services received the only targeted local grant, there were several regional projects that received funding including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, a Fraser Valley Rent Assistance Project and a Home-To Stay outreach worker. Funding is shared equitably around the Fraser Valley based on population, explains Green.

Agassiz’ Family Parenting Place Saturday program will run from 9-12 p.m. Saturday mornings at the Family Parenting Place (7272 Morrow Road) for families with children aged 0-6 years. Watch The Observer for details on when the program will start.

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