A group of knitters works to put together 16 twiddle muffs – specially made sleeves with beads and baubles that keep one's hands busy. Twiddle muffs are particularly useful for people with Alzheimer's dementia or autism as they help to reduce anxiety and agitation. /Photo submitted by Susanne James

Kids for Play to provide inexpensive afterschool fun

By Jenn Watt

Published March 6 2018

Each Wednesday after school from March 21 to June 6 a new program will be filling the gymnasium at Stuart Baker Elementary School with fun affordable activities for children.
Kids for Play a new initiative organized by parents and community members is bringing games crafts dance and music to the school for children ages six to nine.
“The idea started with a group of parents and community members that met in April 2017 and they all kind of had a common goal to increase affordable access to youth recreation in the county” says Amanda Duncombe-Lee one of the organizers.

In June of last year the group put out a survey asking parents to tell them what was needed for their kids. More than 130 families filled out the survey.
“There was a very strong indication that more programming was needed” she says.
Using information from the surveys the committee selected Wednesdays after school until 5 p.m. at SBES for the program. Parents had indicated that cost was a factor so Kids for Play will charge $24 per child which covers the full 12 weeks (that breaks down to $2 a session).
“The short-term objective is to provide affordable safe and quality recreation for children in the six to nine age range and promote their social and emotional development. The long-term goal is to get them more engaged in activities in the community” Duncombe-Lee says.
Funding for the project came from fundraising done at the hot chocolate stand during the Haliburton Santa Claus Parade from Haliburton Highlands Team Remax and from the Haliburton and District Lions Club.
Other supporters are numerous and include SBES Dysart et al the health unit library and U-Links Centre for Community Based Research.

Fay Martin a local academic and organizer will be conducting research to follow-up on the success of the program which the committee is hoping can continue next school year.
Programming will include music with Sean Pennylegion; crafts with Abbey Gardens staff; dance with Jordy Schell; theatre with Kate Butler; mini-makers (coding working with robots) with Noelia Marziali from the library; board games with Steven Lee; and yoga with Gail Holness.
Sessions will be facilitated by Dysart et al’s recreation co-ordinator Andrea Mueller along with another staff member and volunteers.
“Andrea’s going to start and end each session with activity-based learning” Duncombe-Lee says. “There’ll be warm-ups and cool downs. She’ll have some equipment for that.”
The program is filling up quickly. There are 30 spots which as of publication were half filled. Parents have until Monday March 19 at noon to sign up and pay the registration fee at the Dysart et al municipal office in Haliburton.

To find a registration form go to www.dysartetal.ca and click on the “kids for play” link. For more information email Mueller at amueller@dysartetal.ca or call 705-457-1740 ext. 35.