One of our favourite ways to start the holiday season is to host inclusive parties for our families.
Often, our inclusive event is the highlight of the holidays for our families because they are welcomed and feel comfortable bringing their children to an environment that accepts and celebrates all abilities. Our inclusive events provide parents a stress-free, sensory-friendly, safe environment and if we're really lucky, we have a surprise guest who is jolly and wears a red suit.
On Saturday, November 19th, in partnership with Closing the Gap, CTN hosted its first holiday event in the in Orillia with 32 kids and another successful annual event in Barrie with over 40 families! During both events, kids and parents especially loved the crafts, cookie decorating, sensory activity sponsored by Scholars Choice and, photos with Santa!
The real success of these events is in the experiences of the families, staff and volunteers. In Orillia, CTN Recreation Therapist, Kelly, loved that the 5’ inflatable Santa was a bigger hit than the real guy! Barrie Local Team Facilitator, Lori, had a wonderful discussion with a 9 year old boy about tornadoes. “When we finished he thanked me for talking with him, got up and started to walk away. When he was about 8-10 feet away he looked back at me and said, ‘remember to teach that all to your grandkids, it’s important’, then he went to see Santa.”
In Alliston, 13 youth and young adults participated in the CTN Christmas craft and game night. All attendees enjoyed the wooden snowman craft, Christmas BINGO (with mini marshmallows as game pieces), Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Reindeer game, colouring sheets and snacks, of course! To end the fun night, the group had a memorable indoor snowball fight! This incredible group of youth and young adults really enjoy being together in an inclusive environment. A special thank you to Andy, Candace, Robin and Debbie! Without this special group of moms, this event would not be possible.
In collaboration with our partners from Catulpa, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Closing the Gap and Community Living Association for South Simcoe (CLASS), the CTN team in Alliston also hosted a family event at the Town of New Tecumseth Arena. The event was a memorable time for the 33 children who tried skating or sledge hockey with the help of the Alliston Hornets hockey team, who graciously volunteered their time that day. Special thanks to the Mayor who dressed up as Santa that day!
I love to just run in here Alliston party attendee.
CTN also hosted two holiday parties in Vaughan and Georgina with a total of 94 children in attendance. Special thank you to volunteers from York Region Early Intervention Services who helped the kids make reindeer crafts throughout the night. The children also enjoyed story time with the librarian, playing with LEGO (provided by our partners at Recreation Respite), getting their face painted by Blue Leopard Clown Service, and of course, taking a private photo with Santa, thanks to our friends at SnapStation and Strike a Pose. Not only did our families leave with a special keepsake of the night, they also left in the holiday spirit!
Georgina’s Local Team Facilitator, Cheryl, remembers that her favourite moment was with a special young boy who sat still long enough to get a snow flake painted on each hand. Sitting for that long and being comfortable with a new sensation is a huge accomplishment for this boy!
In Collingwood, over 30 kids attended the skating and sledge party! What an amazing event for kids of all abilities to have an opportunity to try a sledge. One young man, who uses a power wheelchair, was able to get on the ice in a sledge and "skate" with his family for the first time. We couldn't have done it without our partners at the YMCA in Collingwood and the Town of Collingwood who made this event a huge success...even Santa had a great time on the ice!
Thank you to everyone who attended our holiday event this year. We wish all of our families a wonderful holiday season.
To see photos from our holiday events, please check here.
For all upcoming events, please visit our events calendar.