Over 170 friends flocked to the Playhouse Cinema last Wednesday for a wonderful night in the one of East Hamilton’s neighbourhoods. After our AGM and a short Board meeting, the lights went down and anticipation increased as we settled in for a free screening of the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The story of Mister Fred Rogers, the much-loved American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer and Presbyterian minister, the award-winning film proved to be the perfect relief – and release – as we all struggle to come to terms with the incendiary issues that inflame our troubled times.
The movie also proved itself to be a wonderful conversation starter!
Hosted by our very own Associate Director of Programs, Rosanne Cascella, she expertly moderated our panel discussion which followed.
14-year-old Gourg Fares (Today’s Family volunteer Halton Programs, and future summer camp leader) told attendees that he learned a lot during his week-long experience as a volunteer at Burlington’s CH Norton Summer Camp. He especially loved helping staff and playing soccer with the kinder kids, he said. “It’s a great community. Like the movie we just watched, everyone is so kind to one another; it’s just like family,” Gourg said of his summer camp experience.
Commenting on the importance of play, Mubashra Saleem (Today’s Family Educator, Halton Programs), said it’s critical to child development. Quoting a child in her care, Mubashra said, “play is something you do without parents telling you what to do or how to do it.” Mubrasha then added, “play is how children develop relationships; it’s how they express themselves. It’s their natural communication.”
Heather Clark (Today’s Family educator, Licensed Home Child Care provider) echoed a comment Mister Rogers said in the movie, saying children really are special. “When I welcome children to my home each day, I ensure they feel my home is their home, too. For example, I have a cubby area for each child so everyone feels they have a place that’s theirs and theirs alone.” Welcoming children with a smile is the best way to start the day she said. “It adds greatly to their sense of belonging.” Heather pointed out it’s a privilege to record milestones like kids sliding down a pole for the first time. I record these on my phone and share them with the child’s parents so they can celebrate these special moments. “In ten or twenty years the children won’t remember what science experiment we did one day, but they’ll always remember how I made them feel,” Heather concluded in her special way.
Last but never least, Don Jaffray (Today’s Family board member and former Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council), spoke about the importance of advocating for children. “We need to respect, care, listen, and help one another,” he said. “Now more than ever, we need to speak up for the rights of children; this City needs to make an investment in our children because they represent our shared future.”
In closing, Rosanne Cascella generously gave the final word to Mister Rogers when she repeated his words, “the outside world of the child changes, but the inside of the child never changes.”
Prior to the film’s screening, attendees witnessed the world premiere of Today’s Family’s delightful 70-second film called “We want what’s best for families.” Sure to put a smile on your face and melt your heart at the same time, be sure to check it out here: https://www.todaysfamily.ca/
If you missed the evening and want to read a copy of our latest Annual Report, it’s here: https://www.todaysfamily.ca/wp-content/uploads/TF-2019-Annual-Report-Final_Singles-LR-2.pdf
And if these weren’t enough sugar-free treats to indulge in, here’s a pint-sized copy of our Mission Vision and Values booklet: https://www.todaysfamily.ca/wp-content/uploads/TF_MVV-2019-Booklet-Final_Spreads_LR.pdf
Hard copies of both resources are available through our 44 Greendale head office in Hamilton.
Pictured from left to right are: Mubashra, Brooke (Assoc. Dir of Programs) and Gourg (we think Rosanne, Heather and Don may have been out getting popcorn).