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Parents and local Legion help redesign Kingston MFRC Stay and Play Program

A new Stay and Play program will debut this fall at the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC).

Due to the addition of a new library and child care centre, the original Stay and Play program area was reduced so participants set out to restore the program to its former size.

The Stay and Play program is a drop-in play centre for children to participate in crafts, blocks, dress-up, dramatic play, puzzles, and sensory activities plus healthy snacks are served to all participants. The playgroup wraps up with stories and songs in both official languages.

“We also provide parenting resources and referrals for the families,” says Terry Telford, marketing and public relations coordinator . “The group is facilitated by MFRC staff who provide guidance, support and encouragement to the children and the families.”

All of these services and activities are provided at a cost of one dollar per family.
When the program’s area was reduced, parents who participated in Stay and Play approached the Kingston MFRC with concerns about the changes. At a round table discussion with executives of the Kingston MFRC, parents were able to reach a compromise and redesign the Stay and Play program.

“We decided that moving Stay and Play into the gym would solve the space issue, but the parents were worried that the other programs running in the gym at the same time would potentially compromise their children’s safety,” explained Telford.

So the parents drafted a proposal that included temporary walls for the Stay and Play area that could be assembled and removed for the Stay and Play time.

With shared gym access already available, the space needed for an average program involving 40 children from 20-25 families was not an issue. But the additional cost to the Kingston MFRC was an issue. The plan, although a wonderful compromise, was not in the budget.

Kingston MFRC contacted Gordon Stevenson at the Poppy Fund who agreed to provide funds for changes to the program. With a generous donation of $5,000 from the Poppy Fund, the Kingston MFRC was able to restore the program and maintain the safety of its participants.

“We are very excited about the Poppy Fund’s generosity and being able to please the parents too,” said MFRC executive director Iain Harper.

When changes are made to programming at the MFRC, be it additions, expansions, or eliminations, he said the best interests of the community are priority.

“Every decision we make at the Kingston MFRC is done with the families in mind. We try to offer as many services as we can to accommodate everyone.

Harper is pleased at the outcome of the focus group. With the parent’s involvement, led by Stephanie Van Der Pryt, they were able to redesign a program that meets the needs of patrons of the program.

The Stay and Play program is highly valued by Canadian Forces families who use the Kingston MFRC and with compromise and generosity it is able to continue. The revised Stay and Play is set to make its debut this September.

By Jillian Driessen.  Jillian Driessen is a military spouse, an aspiring writer and currently resides in Shilo with her spouse and their two dogs.

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Canadian Military Family Magazine