Monthly Archives: December 2016

Family New Year’s Fun 2017

New Year’s Eve is just a couple of days away – what are your plans? It’s easy to celebrate the arrival of 2017 as a family in Calgary! Check out our top picks for family-friendly celebrations over the next few days. Happy New Year!

City of Calgary New Year’s Activities

On December 31, Calgarians and visitors alike will enjoy a New Year’s Eve celebration for the history books. Check out the the glow-in-the-dark dance party at the Municipal Building complete with crafts, bouncy castle, stilt walkers, magician and a kids’ countdown from 7-9pm! Olympic Plaza will be illuminated and animated with family skating, live ice carvings, fire spinning, an ice slide, and creative light-based art installations to celebrate the beginning of Canada’s 150th anniversary. For more information, visit the website.

Kids New Year’s Eve Party in Okotoks

From 9:30am – 3:30pm, the Okotoks Recreation Centre has all kinds of free activities to celebrate ringing in 2017 including a bouncy castle, magic, swimming and skating. Cap off the evening with fireworks at Lineham Park at 7pm! Check out the website for more details.

Kids New Year’s Parties at Southland Leisure Centre and Village Square Leisure Centre

Both leisure centres will have fun all-ages parties from 4:30-8:30pm on New Year’s Eve! Special activities include a pool party, fun and games in the lobby, a DJ, arts and crafts, and much more! The evening will be finished off with a countdown in the pool at 8:30pm. Visit the website for more information.

Airdrie Festival of Lights New Year’s Celebration

Watch the fireworks at 6:30pm in Ed Eggerer Park, then head over to Nose Creek Park and enjoy the lights until 9pm! Enjoy a miniature train ride, hot chocolate, family fun activities and a DJ! Check out the website for more information.

Noon Year’s Eve at TELUS Spark

Ring in 2017 a little early at TELUS Spark! Be sure to arrive before noon to participate in the celebrations. Perfect for Calgarians with early bedtimes, take part in a special countdown beginning at 11:45am set to the tune of hydrogen balloon explosions. Then, join the celebrations at the bubble wrap dance party. Visit the website for more details.

Enjoying the Holidays: 9 Tips for Families of Children With Special Needs

Provided by the Episcopal Center for Children; photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Thinkstock

The holidays can be fun, but they can add stress to the lives of children with special needs. The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization serving children with special needs ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers the following tips to help.

“Children with special needs enjoy the holidays but they are especially sensitive to the changes in routines that the holidays bring,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “Making a plan and adjusting your expectations can go a long way to creating a positive holiday experience for the entire family.”

Tip #1 – Make a plan for the holidays and share it with your family. Create a schedule for your family’s holiday activities and post it for your child to see. You may need to use pictures to help a young child. Talk about the schedule with your child, so he or she can anticipate what will happen. Review the schedule weekly. Also discuss the schedule with others in your home, so they understand what is going on and how they can best support your child with special needs, so everyone can have a fun holiday.

Tip #2 – For holiday gatherings, give your child a job and a schedule. Ask your child to help collect coats, give out treats, or greet arrivals. Rehearse the plan. Give your child a schedule for a festive occasion so he or she knows what to anticipate.

Tip #3 – Maintain routines as much as possible. There may be special activities for the holidays, but try to keep your child’s schedule as close to “normal” as possible. 

Tip #4 – Eat healthy foods and know how new or special foods impact your child. During the holidays there are all sorts of fun foods and treats to enjoy. Some children are more affected than others by dietary changes. Pay attention to your child’s moods and how diet and situational changes may be impacting him or her. Bring along with you food that is familiar to your child if you think it may be needed.

Tip #5 – If your child is sensitive to unfamiliar smells, help manage them. You can add a little cinnamon to play compound to help a child experience this smell minimally. Ask guests visiting your home to not wear heavy perfumes if your child is sensitive to them.

Tip #6 – Get your child into the spirit of the season through gift giving. Gift giving provides an opportunity to practice social skills. Help your child make a gift for someone else, and practice how to give the gift to that person.

Tip #7 – Take breaks when needed. Sometimes children need a break from the hubbub of holiday activities and busyness. Fill a bag or backpack with a few favorite toys, games or activities. If you see your child is getting stressed, get out the bag and find a quiet spot to get them out.

Tip #8 – Do not allow presents to be a hindrance to enjoyment. Some children with special needs find it dis-orienting to unwrap things that are new and unfamiliar to them. If that is the case for your child, wrap a few favorite toys for your child to unwrap. Children who have trouble with fine motor skills may find unwrapping some gifts frustrating. You can adjust packages to their comfort level by loosening ribbons and paper. And ask others who give your child gifts to be aware of his or her needs.

Tip #9 – Give your child the gift of your attention. Holidays can be busy for grown-ups and children. Make sure you spend a few minutes of quality time with your child. Give him or her your full attention. Practice active listening, where you listen to what your child is saying and then repeat it back to them to demonstrate that you were listening.