Welcome to the St. Alban’s Blog

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staffOur staff team is committing to writing and posting articles that we hope will be of interest to parents, community members and people who use our services. We are a group of people who are incredibly dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, youth and families in the City of Toronto. We have a wealth of information and ideas to share and we realized that our newsletters and emails home are not always the best place to tackle the “bigger” topics, or to relay news that doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of “program updates.” The blog will be a central place for us to share some of the things that we have learned along the way about a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Bullying
  • Fun games, crafts and activities that you can do with your kids at home
  • Safety issues including water and swim safety
  • Transitioning kids from home into a childcare program
  • High school years, homework and applying for post-secondary education

We’ll do our best to address issues of all four of the communities that we run programs in:

  • St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club Founding Clubhouse – Bathurst/Dupont
  • Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Weston-Mount Dennis
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Lawrence Heights

If you have an idea for an article, or a topic you would like addressed, please feel free to email us. We’d love your feedback.

Free (or almost free) things to do for families in Toronto this month

No vacation booked?  Not to worry, there’s lots to do in this wonderful city of ours during the holidays.   And don’t forget, there’s always holiday break camp at St. Alban’s!

Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery History District

Bigger and better each year!  Local vendors, artisans, and food stalls with delicious and festive European street food.  A giant Christmas tree, a ferris wheel, a carousel, entertainment, and Santa himself!   Free on weekdays and only $6 on weekends.

 

Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre

A heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms.  Food and hot drinks available at the rink side restaurant.  Skating is free!

 

Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square

Skating and festive fun including vendors, food trucks, shopping, a fireside lounge, a carousel, music, entertainment and photos with Santa on weekends!

 

 

 

Christmas Flower Show

Both Allan Gardens and Centennial Park Conservatories host the Christmas Flower Show. Thousands of flowering plants and more than 30 varieties of poinsettia are on display along with topiary masterpieces.   Visitors are treated to horse and wagon rides, carollers, hot apple nicer and of course, visits from Santa!

Christmas in the Valley at Todmorden Mills

Explore the holiday traditions of Toronto past.  Enjoy festive treats and create a take home craft.  ($3-$7)

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Village at Evergreen Brickworks

Every December weekend and December 26-29 from 10am-5pm.  Play outdoors – try street curling, ride a fat bike, play in the Children’s Garden.  Shop – at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, the Sunday Etsy Market, or the Garden Market.   Eat – from local vendors or roast s’mores over a campfire!

What is your family up to this month?  Let us know in the comments!

Holiday Food Drive

tandis

by Tandis Aslanbick
Club Member

Hey everyone it’s Tandis back again!
Just letting everyone know that me and Youth Compass are going to be hosting a holiday food drive!

The information will be included on this flyer.


Thought it would be a great idea to give back to the community this holiday season.
Feel free to spread the word.
Let’s get into the holiday spirit and let the positivity spread throughout our souls.
Anyways hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.
Take Care and Happy Holidays.
Tandis

Preventing cyber-bullying

As the days get colder and shorter, kids are spending more time indoors and online.  While  it may be easy to say “no electronics” – we know that’s not always realistic for parents of kids in the digital age.  While we might monitor closely the online activities of very young children, as they get older, kids have more freedom and more access to electronics.   Just as we talk to kids about how to stand up to bullying IRL (in real life), we also need to talk to them about how to stay safe – and how to keep their friends safe – online.

(Throughout this article, we have included videos created by Boys and Girls Club members on the topic of Cyberbullying)

A major challenge with online communication versus schoolyard behaviour is that when we are online the perpetrators are often anonymous.  Bullying behaviour in person can often (although not always) be noticed and addressed by an adult – and the root cause of the behaviour can be identified. Not so with an online aggressor.  An online “bully” can be anything from a school mate displaying many of the same behaviours as they would in person – to an adult predator interested in much more dangerous acts.   

Talk to your kids about what they are doing online.  It’s difficult to stay current on every platform, app and game (yes, even the boring and seemingly pointless Minecraft) they are using, but it’s necessary for us to ensure their safety.   

Start the conversation by talking about cyberbullying in kid-friendly language: 

Cyberbullying is when someone sends you mean messages on the computer or cell phone. Sometimes one kid will do this. Sometimes a group of kids will do this. It can happen one time or lots of times. You might not even know who is doing it. Some examples of cyberbullying are: posting hateful comments about other people on websites, blogs, through text messaging and instant messaging, stealing passwords and sending out threatening emails or instant messages, embarrassing others through name-calling, gossiping, spreading rumours.*

As a child’s age, maturity, and online activity dictates, a conversation about online predators can follow.  

An online predator is an Internet user who exploits vulnerable people, usually for sexual or financial purposes. Adolescents and the elderly are most often the victims of online predators. Online victimization of minors can include requests to engage in sexual activities or discussions by an adult; unwanted exposure to sexual material; online harassment, threats or other aggressive communications that are not sexual in nature but cause distress, fear or embarrassment.*

Tips for handling cyberbullying and online predators:
Often, it’s up to young people themselves to protect themselves and address threats online as incidents often occur out of the view of adults.   It’s up to us to help arm kids and teens with the awareness and tools they need to protect themselves and their peers. 

  1. Guard your contact information. Don’t give people you don’t know your cell phone number or e-mail address. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
  2. Take a stand against cyber bullying with your peers. Speak out whenever you see someone being mean to another person online. Most kids respond better to criticism from their peers than to disapproval from adults.
  3. If you are being harassed online, take the following actions immediately:
  • Tell an adult you trust – a teacher, Boys and Girls Club staff, parent/guardian, older sibling or grandparent/guardian.
  • If you are being harassed, leave the area or stop the activity (i.e. messaging platform, online gaming)
  • If you are being bullied through e-mail, text or messaging, block the sender’s messages. Never reply to harassing messages.
  • Save any harassing messages and forward them to the platform admin (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat). Most service providers have appropriate use policies that restrict users from harassing others over the Internet – and that includes kids!
  • If the bullying includes physical threats, tell the police as well.*

*From the Take It EASY Program Manual, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

Need help, support or resources for talking to your kids or teens about online safety?  Boys and Girls Club staff can help.  

In memory of our friend Hughgo Extavour

Hughgo Joseph Extavour
April 12, 1940 – October 18, 2017

Whenever we heard a friendly voice call “Greetings! Greetings!” we knew that Hughgo was in the building! Hughgo came to the Club on a regular basis to use the exercise area, and we looked forward to the interesting stories and conversations he brought with him.  He chatted with the staff and danced with the preschoolers outside.   We will miss his warmth, his laugh and his positive attitude. Rest in peace, Hughgo.  

Hughgo (Hugh) Joseph Extavour passed away in his 78th year in his Toronto home. Beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather,uncle, cousin, friend, mentor. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, third child of Daphne Patience Clothilda Extavour and Eric Conrad Extavour, he came to Canada in 1967 and extended the Extavour name into this country. Founding member of Martinsday, Caribana, Afropan, King Friends International and countless other community upliftment activities; musician, drummer, philosopher, social entrepreneur and artist. He spent 30 years at the CBC as a
broadcasting technician.

He is survived, honoured and remembered by his partner and wife Doris Matyas Extavour, their children Mariea Esi Anne Extavour, Mwanajuma Ericka Dorothea Extavour, Marcius Hugh Tutankhamun Extavour, and Cassandra Gabrielle Makeda Extavour, grandchildren Simone Avenel Dorothea Extavour and Vivien Irene Daphne
Extavour, and all Extavour family extensions.

 

Private cremation has taken place in Toronto, and a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

We are so honoured that the family has requested that donations in Hughgo’s memory will go to St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club.  Please indicate that your donation is in Hughgo’s name.

Halloween Crafts

by Michelle Clarke
Creative Arts Coordinator

There are so many fun Halloween crafts! Here is a shortlist of a few of my favourites that are easy to prep and budget friendly : )

 

Paper Plate Spider (iheartcraftythings.com)
I recently made a similar craft to this with our senior preschool class, and not only did we have fun making them, but the kids played with them for a long time afterwards and had fun singing songs and making funny voices for their puppets too!

 

Puffy Ghosts (thrivinghomeblog.com)
This one is really simple (all you need is paper, glue and a bag of cotton balls) and great for preschoolers.

 

 

 

Paper Plate Witch Craft (craftymorning.com)
Kids can decide to make either a good witch or a bad witch!

 

 

 

Finger Print Bat Silhouette (craftymorning.com)
This one is great for younger kids because it’s not too complicated and the finger painting is fun and sensory…but this would also be great if you have a variety of ages – the older ones can just do more themselves and maybe get extra creative with the colours or painting.

 

Mini Mummy Pinatas (diycandy.com)
So fun! Kids of any age would love this…I can’t wait to try it myself!

 

 

 

Secret Message Pumpkins (readingconfetti.com)
Another great one for all ages.

 

 

 

If you love these ideas but don’t have the time or energy to make them happen, come out to our fall fair on October 28th from 1-4pm, where we’ll have a craft station set up as well as many other fun Halloween activities.

St. Alban’s alumni & the next generation: Ayokah, Ariel and Aveline Beauchamp

We recently caught up with Ayokah Beauchamp, who attended programs at St. Alban’s as a child.  Now, the tradition continues as both her daughters attend programs here! 

When I was 9 years old, I started attending the after school and swim programs at St. Alban’s. I walked there from my school down the street every day. My elementary school used the pool as well so I went there throughout all of elementary school for swimming.

Some of my best memories were spending time with my friends at the Club and playing in the games room after school. I loved the swimming program there as well. 

I had such good memories at St. Alban’s that when we were looking for a swim program for my step-daughter, Ariel, St. Alban’s was my first thought and it’s so close to her school. She loved the March Break swim program so much and her swimming improved  by leaps and bounds so we enrolled her in the regular weekly swim program. We saw that there was an all girls summer camp week and thought that would be perfect. She had so much fun we enrolled her in another week and her friend decided to also join.  Ariel had nothing but good things to say every day after summer camp and she can’t wait to go again next year.

I’m going to be signing my one year old daughter, Aveline up for the Starfish swimming program this winter and continue with all her swimming at St. Alban’s. When she’s older we will also sign her up for summer camps as well. I love that the girls will be continuing in the tradition of having fun at St. Alban’s and learning to swim at the same place I did when I was young.
 
If you have an alumni story, please share it with us so that we can feature you on our next blog!

Why we are missing our kindergarten friends!

With recent changes in provincial legislation, there has been a lot of confusion about what these new rules mean for parents as well as organizations like ours.  We’d like to do our best to clear up some of the terms and issues. 

When full day kindergarten was fully implemented, licensed child care centres (such as our daycare) were no longer allowed to provide licensed care to kindergarten children.  We soon realized that the need for after school, and out of school (summer, March Break, PA Days) care for that age group was greater than what the child care community could provide.  We received Ministry approval to pilot out of school programs and KinderStars was born.  First, at our main St. Alban’s Clubhouse and, in 2016, several satellite school sites.

KinderStars began with 24 kindergarten aged children, with a ratio of 1:8 with 2 qualified counselors and an RECE, the same staffing and ratio requirements we had in place prior to 2015.  Our staff complete close to 100 hours of training annually, including HIGH FIVE, First Aid/CPR and Boys and Girls Club training.  Our staff are fun, energetic and have a strong commitment to quality children’s programming and the community. The KinderStars program (as well as the KinderCamp summer program) was a great success and filled the needs of the parents and children of our community. 

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that as of September 2017, it would be mandatory for all programs offering care to the kindergarten age group to be licensed. Or, in our case, relicensed at our St. Alban’s site.  At our other KinderStars satellite sites in schools, we are unable to license based on a TDSB mandate to have only one child care provider in a school.  Sadly, many school providers have opted to not run kindergarten programs due to the cost and the challenge of operating a before and after school program. 

The Ministry of Education has established new regulations under the Childcare Early Years Act for child care and after school programs. Under the new regulations, the MOE has defined after school programs provided by Boys and Girls Clubs, Municipalities, YM/YWCA’s, etc. as Authorized Recreation Providers with after school specific regulations.  St. Alban’s Daycare and after school programs meet these new regulations and the almost 500 operating standards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

It is our aim to consistently be able to offer programs to children in kindergarten in our community. We started the process of getting licensed as soon as the requirements were defined by the MOE.  However, with almost every child care centre in Ontario trying to get relicensed before September 2017, the licensing office is overwhelmed with applications.  
There are several steps to the application process. Applications are submitted and approved of by Public Health, fire, zoning and the Ministry.  This process has been longer than anticipated and we are currently working on the final stages, including installing sinks in the rooms, which are required by Public Health.  

We would like to thank the parents of our community for their efforts in helping bring the challenges that were facing kindergarten children to the MOE as it really helped push our application forward.

St. Alban’s is committed to providing care for the ever changing and growing needs of the communities we serve. We hope to be able to offer consistent, fun, engaging and safe programming for children of all ages again soon! 

Kids say the darndest things – Summer Camp edition!

By Cindy Nguyen
Rogers Raising the Grade Program Coordinator

Ah summer camp…a busy time of the year here at St. Alban’s, especially for the kids! Somehow these tiny humans are able to conquer people double their size on a daily basis.  Sometimes, we aren’t sure how our lives can be managed by these tiny little youngsters but we do know one thing – they say the darndest things! 

Over the last few weeks we have had the pleasure of getting to know our summer camp kids, making new memories with them, and hearing the most hilarious things. I’ve asked our staff to document any funny, memorable quotes so I can share on this blog with you! Below are a few examples of what we’ve heard so far:

Location: In the bathroom (two kids waiting for a bathroom stall)

Child A: “It is my human right to use the bathroom! It is my human right to use the bathroom! It is my human right to use the BATHROOM!” (Impatiently waiting)

Child B: “WELL, it is MY human right that you go and take a shower!”

Location: In the home-base, conversation between a child and a camp counsellor

Camp counsellor: “Guys…I don’t feel so well”

Child: “How can I put you out of your misery?”

Location: In the art room while doing an art activity

Child A to Child B: “Give me the scissors!”

Camp Counsellor to Child A: “But first, where are your manners?!”

Child B: They are nowhere to be found…*pause* haha, I can be very funny.

Location: On the way to the field trip on the school bus

Child A: “What if I need to use the bathroom and we are stuck in traffic?”

Child B: “Yeah! I can’t hold in my pee. The last time I had to hold in my pee, it really hurt”

Child A: “So what did you do?”

Child B: “I let it ALLLLLL out”

Child A: “Well, you gotta go when you gotta go!”

Camp Counsellor: “please don’t let it all out on this bus…”

These are just some examples of the many funny things we overhear the kids saying at St. Albans! What are the darndest things you’ve heard at home? Comment down below!

Summer Time Crafts

michelle-clarkeBy Michelle Clarke
Arts Program Coordinator

Summer is a great time to try out some of the messier crafts. Kids looove the messy crafts, and you can even have your kids do this in their bathing suits outside and follow it with some water fun 😉

But for those of you who prefer to keep the mess for us over here at summer camp, I’ll also include some less messy summer-themed crafts for those times you want to chill out in the air conditioning or get out of the rain.

swimming-jellyfish-craft-2For Young Children:

SWIMMING JELLY FISH

These are so cute, you may want to make them with your older children too!

http://iheartcraftythings.com/paper-plate-swimming-jellyfish-craft.html

How To Make Ice Paints A Fun Summer Lesson In All Things Frozen That Toddlers Will Love Sprout Organices One Savvy MomICE PAINT

A fun way to keep things “cool”!

http://www.onesavvymom.net/2016/07/summer-toddler-craft-idea-ice-painting-how-to-make-ice-paints.html

TISSUE FISH

For this one, you just need a paper plate and tissue paper. Cut out a triangle for the mouth and use it to glue on the back for a tail. For a more colourful fish, you can paint it before adding the tissue paper. Use a googly eye or just draw on an eye with a marker.

Older Kids:

DSC_159533SALT PAINTING

This tutorial is for Jelly Fish, but you can paint anything you want with salt paint: try other sea creatures, writing your name, or anything you like!

http://www.iheartartsncrafts.com/jellyfish-salt-painting-activity-kids/

Fidget-Spinner-CraftDIY FIDGET SPINNERS

These ones are very popular around here 😉

http://www.redtedart.com/make-fidget-spinner-diy/

 

 

 

 

 

For Kids of All Ages:

cotton-candy-puffy-paint-craft-for-kids-PUFFY PAINT

Kids of all ages love this one!
Just make sure that the kids don’t eat it!

http://www.craftymorning.com/puffy-paint-cotton-candy-craft-kids/

Squirt-Gun-Art-3-1SQUIRT GUN PAINTING

This one is super fun! A friend of mine had the brilliant idea to do this at her daughter’s birthday party on a big canvas and now she has some a great big abstract art piece up in her living room!

http://www.firefliesandmudpies.com/squirt-gun-painting/

 

TIE DYE

Go retro with some good old fashioned tie dye!

https://www.tiedyeyoursummer.com/techniques?pp=1

ice cream in a bag pin 0ICE CREAM IN A BAG

This one is fun and delicious too!

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/07/summer-fun-ice-cream-in-bag.html?m=1

 

diy-chalk-5DIY SIDEWALK CHALK

These can be made in ice cube trays, muffin tins or popsicle moulds. If you are feeling fancy, you can also look for different shaped ice cube trays at the dollar store.

https://projectnursery.com/2015/05/diy-sidewalk-chalk-pops/#_a5y_p=5245552

Meet the Preschool Staff – Foss

FOSSBy Foss 
Preschool Staff

Parents sing praises about the preschool and the preschool staff all the time – just read our testimonials page! So for this blog post, we spoke to Foss, one of the amazing staff who run the preschool program.

  1. Your name and position/title.
    My name is Foss and I am the Head Teacher in the Senior Preschool Room.

    Just one of the smiling faces in preschool!

    Just one of the smiling faces in preschool!

  1. What is your long-term career goal? 
    I am currently in the process of registering for school to be a Resource Consultant for Children with Special Needs
  1. What programs do you run/help run?
    I run the Senior Preschool room and I help with all of the other preschool rooms. I also am the the supervisor with staff schedules.
  1. How long have you worked for St. Alban’s?
    I have worked at St. Alban’s for about 10 years now!
  2. What are your favourite activities to do with the children?
    I love to do science with the preschool children because I get to explore different elements and how they react to one another, and show the children how exciting science can be.
  1. What is your favourite part about the job?
    I love watching the children grow and develop over their time spent here at St. Alban’s!

Thank you Foss for all your hard work and dedication over the last 10 years – the children of St. Alban’s preschool really appreciate it!