CHILDREN | Baby Festival in Williams Lake

Michelle Iverson and her daughter Ellie enjoy some one-on-one cuddle time. Photo: LeRae Haynes

Michelle Iverson and her daughter Ellie enjoy some one-on-one cuddle time. Photo: LeRae Haynes

By LeRae Haynes

Who wouldn’t welcome the chance to meet and celebrate our most precious Cariboo resource—every baby born here in 2016? I certainly do. As the community co-ordinator for Success by 6, I’m extremely delighted to welcome babies and parents to our second annual Baby Fest on November 17, in connection with National Child Day.

This festival is one of four excellent free family events in our community put on by members of the Early Years Development Network (ECDN) in Williams Lake. There’s Family Fest in January, Children’s Fest in May, 3-Year-Old Roundup in September, and Baby Fest in November.

Our ECDN table includes Communities that Care, School District #27, Child and Youth Mental Health, Cariboo Friendship Centre, Denisiqi Services Society, Early Years Centre, Child Development Centre, Interior Health, Success by 6, Children First, Child Care Resource and Referral, Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy, and Immigration and Multicultural Services Society.

I think what’s so exciting about these four events is that they came from a group of caring, passionate people on the ECDN who work hard to identify gaps and needs in services available to young children and families. They address things like transportation, early screening, literacy, school readiness, health and nutrition, and more. Strong and creative collaborations are developed. Ideas bounce and feed off each other. Resources, talent, passion, and experience come to the forefront to the ultimate benefit of kids and families.

It’s incredibly inspiring.

And sometimes the most important thing we can do is something we call ‘increase awareness in the importance of the early years.’ To me, that’s like ‘achieve world peace.’ It’s easier than it sounds.

Every moment we invest in our babies and little ones benefits society in the long run. Think about it: our future leaders, artists, scientists, professors, authors, authors, athletes, and entrepreneurs will succeed because they can read, communicate, problem-solve, set goals, and express themselves.

I believe this starts from the first instant those bleary newborn eyes met yours, when that wobbly little body curls into your body warmth and that tiny face turns to the sound of your voice.

Listening, talking, singing, reading, playing—it doesn’t take money, fancy electronics, or rocket science. Just face-to-face time where our little ones learn how to listen, how to speak, and how to believe that they matter, and are deserving of our full attention. It’s the birth of self-esteem.

I see this at the heart of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes in early years organizations in our community. Some of them are really good at strategy, outcomes, research, event organization, and numbers. Some excel at making graphs, posters, writing letters, and applying for grants.

I’m in awe of them! I’m not really good at anything except for cavorting with children, singing, playing music, and goofing off with puppets with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Each of the four festivals for kids and families features services and products available in our community—anything you need to know in one place.

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At Baby Fest on November 17 you’ll find the organizations and business that carry products and services for you and your baby. Furniture, toys, books, eye care, day care, yoga, car seats, swim sessions, health screening, family events, and much more.

At Family Fest on January 29 in the Gibraltar Room, you’ll find organizations, businesses, and agencies encouraging families to spend time together, read together, and improve literacy.

Plus, you’ll get to enjoy games, crafts, lunch, music, stories, and prizes—it’s a free, fun, family event happening in the middle of winter.

If you or someone you know had a baby in 2016, congratulations! Come and be truly celebrated at Baby Fest November 17 from 3–6p.m. in the Gibraltar Room.

And of course, the best source of information for children is wlchild.ca, a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know for your little peeps.

LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of lots of music with kids.

 

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