Camp Questions Parents Need to Consider

62_Benefits of Summer Camp_133Summer is just around the corner and many Calgarian parents are in planning mode. Whether it’s their first time away or their fifth, worrying about summer camp is never easy! What should I pack? Drama or basketball? What do I do if they get homesick? Residential or day camp?

We’ve got you covered with this round-up of our best-ever camp articles. Whatever your worries, we can help!

Still looking for the perfect camp? Don’t forget to check out our 2017 Summer Camp & Program Guide for a huge range of options for every interest, age, and budget!

Preparing for Camp

Packing for Camp – It’s About More Than Your Child’s Socks and Underwear by Sue LeBreton

10 Tips to Prepare Kids for Summer Camp by Lisa Evans

From Homesick Kid to Happy Camper – Expert Tips for Preparing Your Child (And Yourself) For Overnight Camp by Julie Steed

Homesickness and Anxiety

Drop-Off Day at Summer Camp: Are You ‘Parent-Ready’? by Ashley Talmadge

Homesick, Not Helpless: Even Confident Campers Get the Blues by Ashley Talmadge

How to Handle Homesickness (Without Bringing Kids Home) by Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D.

Tips and Advice

Summer Camp 101: An Age-by-Age Guide to Making the Most of Your Child’s Summer by Gayla Grace

10 Benefits of Summer Camp by Christa Melnyk Hines

Keep Camping Stress Free with Four Simple Tips! by Erin Hayzelden

The Sleepover Camp Handbook by Jan Udlock

The 4-1-1 For First-Time Campers by Richard Bavaria, Ph.D.

Choosing a Camp

Away-Camps: Letting Go Helps Kids Grow by Gayla Grace

Choosing the Perfect Camp for Each Child in the Family by Christa Katz

Capture the Benefits of Sports Camp by Gayla Grace

Checklist for Choosing a Summer Camp by Sara Middleton

Choosing a Summer Camp – How to Pick One They’ll Talk About all Year Long! by Eve Eifler

Happy Camper Checklist by Christa Melnyk Hines

Imaginations Are Ignited Through the Arts

By Hilary Angrove

#YYCKidsFest 2014 - Day 1 Opening Day Open Air Activities, Shows and Sponsorship Gala

In a world crowded with special effects and lots of screen time, the performing arts are as important as ever before. From May 24 –27, immerse your kids into the world of performing arts with the Calgary International Children’s Festival. Kids will use their imaginations to engage with live performances; not to mention, attending the theatre is a great way to breakaway from screen-time as an engaging activity for the whole family.

While all genres of performing arts are captivating and fun, Kidsfest understands that even with tiny tots, it’s important that shows interest both kids and their parents. The range of performances at Kidsfest is just as noteworthy for the themes and style of the production as for where the artists come from and what age groups will enjoy them best – there’s something for everyone!

Tiny tots can enjoy an interactive performance from local dance and theatre group Bach Tots in Go Go Peekaboo or kick-up their heels and dance with JUNO Award winning musicians The Swinging Belles. For those still inclined towards special effects, the darkness of the black theatre in Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey will immerse the whole family in a spectacular, larger than life glow-in-the-dark world. For families looking for shows with good social messages, playful puppets tell a hilarious yet touching story of renewal in The Man Who Planted Trees and A Heart in Winter will engage and delight children with an enchanting adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Snow Queen. Or, combine the excitement of hip-hop with the magical world of childhood for one cool kids’ concert by 2017 GRAMMY Award winning artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. And that’s just the beginning!

After enjoying one of the critically acclaimed performances, bring the kids outside to spend some quality time on Olympic Plaza with a wide range of free activities and entertainment. There will be storytelling, dance workshops, roving artists, magicians, face painting, crafts, games, a Canada150 Wishing Wall and more!

When you’re still small enough that your feet don’t touch the ground while sitting in the theatre, a day at Kidsfest can be the making of a lifelong love affair with the performing arts. For now, start off by awakening imaginations and introduce children to the enchanting world of live performances with fun, affordable family entertainment at Kidsfest 2017.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.calgarykidsfest.ca Don’t wait until its too late – May is just around the corner!

INDOOR SPRING FUN IN CALGARY

Pg74-RinginSpring[1]

Spring has sprung, but that doesn’t always mean the weather is great for outdoor fun! Fortunately, Calgary has fantastic indoor events during April and May which can be enjoyed no matter what the weather is.

55th Calgary Youth Science Fair
Olympic Oval – 2500 University Drive NW
April 22; 55th Calgary Youth Science Fair (CYSF) – the largest youth science fair in Canada! Nearly 1,000 of Calgary’s aspiring scientists, leaders, and future thinkers from Grades 5 to 12 will showcase their latest innovations and STEM discoveries (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Nath) to 550 CYSF Judges at the 55th Calgary Youth Science Fair to compete for over 100 prizes and awards. 12 students with top science fair projects will also be given the opportunity to represent Calgary at the 2017 Canada-Wide Science Fair being held May 14 to 20 in Regina. Come explore the latest buzz around what’s trending in the world of science on Saturday, April 22. It’s free! www.CYSF.org

SUPERTRAIN: Canada’s Largest Model Train Show
Genesis Centre – 7555 Falconridge Boulevard NE
April 22 & 23; SUPERTRAIN, Canada’s Largest Model Train Show. Delight your family and train lovers of all ages with huge operating displays in all scales and sizes. There will be ride-on trains, Thomas and Friends, Lego, and more! Free for kids under 16. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website. www.supertrain.ca

35th Annual Law Day
Calgary Courts Centre – 601, 5 Street SW
April 22; Law Day is a family-friendly, interactive event that allows people to learn more about our justice system. Activities include Court Centre Tours, including prison cells, free legal consultations, Canada Border Services with Wesson, the contraband detector dog, CSI demonstrations, mock trials including “R. vs. Batman,” and “Despicable Me.” For more information, visit the website. www.lawdayalberta.com

MRU Conservatory Presents The Queen, the Bear, and the Bumblebee
Bella Concert Hall Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts
April 23, 2017; MRU Conservatory Presents, Family Portrait Series: The Queen, the Bear, and the Bumblebee. Proudly Sponsored by Calgary’s Child Magazine. A musical story with song and dance about discovering who you are. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website. www.mru.ca/enjoy

YYC’s Largest Sale of Used Kid’s Clothing, Toys and Equipment
Genesis Centre – 7555 Falconridge Blvd NE
April 29; The semi-annual TTMAC sale (Twin, Triplets & More Association of Calgary) will be held on Saturday, April 29 at the Genesis Centre (7555 Falconridge Blvd NE – Field House 1). This sale has become the place to shop for Calgarians looking for the best prices on children’s clothing, baby items, toys, and baby gear. For more information, visit the website. www.ttmac.org/sale

The CRLC Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show at Vivo for Healthier Generations
11950 Country Village Link NW
May 5 to 7; Come to Vivo for the 57th Annual Show of the Calgary Rock & Lapidary Club. There will be 49 vendors, demonstrations, a silent auction, and activities for kids! Admission for kids 12 and under is free when accompanied by an adult. http://crlc.ca/crlc-annual-gem-mineral-and-fossil-show

CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale
720, 3 Street NW
May 12 to 14; The 2017 CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale will be held at the Calgary Curling Club May 12 to 14. The CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale is held each year in May. Last year, through the generosity of Calgarians and amazing volunteers, Calgary Reads received, sorted, and sold over 100,000 gently-used books and raised over $300,000 in Calgary. http://calgaryreads.com/cbc-calgary-reads-big-book-sale-book-sale/

2017 Banff Centre Children’s Festival
May 20; The 2017 Banff Centre Children’s Festival will feature De Temps Antan, Sheldon Casavant, and the Dancers of Damelahamid. To purchase tickets, call the Banff Centre Box Office at 1-800-413-8368, 1-403-762-6301, or visit the website. Explore the beauty of traditional culture through music, magic, dance, and visual arts at Banff Centre Children’s Festival on Saturday, May 20. With free or low-cost activities and live shows, Banff Centre Children’s Festival is a continent of imagination where children of all ages can explore some of Canada’s diverse cultures through contemporary art. The free activities at the Festival include: Storytelling, creativity rooms, circus school, family dance, and more! For full details, visit the website. www.banffcentre.ca

2017 KidsFest (The Calgary International Children’s Festival)
May 24 to 27; check website for schedule of performances. Celebrate the Best in Performing Arts for Children with the 2017 KidsFest (The Calgary International Children’s Festival)! Explore and experience this Festival through puppetry, music, dance, theatre, author engagements, and more! There will also be free activities on Olympic Plaza adjacent to Arts Commons including storytelling, dance workshops, roving artists, magicians, face painting, creative activities and challenges, and more! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website. www.calgarykidsfest.ca

Royal Canadian Family Circus SPECTAC! 2017 Coming to Spruce Meadows & CrossIron Mills
18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW and 261055 CrossIron Boulevard NE
May 26 to 28; The all-new Royal Canadian Family Circus SPECTAC!™ 2017 is coming to Spruce Meadows from May 26 to 28 and CrossIron Mills from June 1 to 4! For 2 for the Price of 1 tickets, visit the website, promo code: calgaryschild. The internationally-renowned acts include the thrilling Argentinian High Wire, Aerial Motor Cycle Cyclone, Acrobatic Strap & Silk act, the Tarzan Zerbini Liberty Horses, Hula Hoop maze, worldclass Poodles, Aerialists, TZ Motorcycle Globe of Destiny, Clowns, and much more. (There are no exotic animals in the show.) For more information and showtimes, visit the website. www.royalcanadiancircus.ca

Easter is Hopping into Calgary!

EasterRoundUpThere are tons of great events all around the city to celebrate Easter and the coming of spring! Here’s our top picks for spring celebrations around town.

Butterfield Acres Easter Hunt
April 8 and 9 and April 14 & 15; The Butterfield Acres Easter Hunt is specially designed for youngsters 7 and under. The Legend and Hunt run every 20 minutes starting at 10am. Tickets include: The Legendary Easter Egg Hunt; a springtime craft for each child; a visit in the farmyard with new spring farm babies; and a little something yummy for kids to take home! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website!

Photos with the Easter Bunny at Bass Pro Shop!
Customers will receive a FREE 4×6 print of their photo. Give us your email for a cute Digital Easter Card or purchase a photo package! Join them in-store and complete a fun craft with the kids! On Saturday April 15th, come in for an easter egg hunt from 2-3pm! Visit the website for times, locations and more details.

Family Easter Crafts and Cookies at Southland Leisure Centre
April 11; Two times available: 9:30 to 11:30am & 6:30 to 8:30pm. Celebrate the Easter season. Make Easter crafts for your family and friends, and enjoy some light refreshments! All ages + adult. Visit the website for more information.

Photos with the Easter Bunny at Southcentre Mall!
April 13 – 15;  Show us your best bunny ears! The Easter Bunny will be at Southcentre Mall from 11am to 4pm on Thursday April 13th, Friday April 14th, and Saturday April 15th!  Visit the Bunny Burrow, on the lower level beside Sears, and have your photo professionally taken with the Easter Bunny! One sheet of photos is $10, each additional sheet is $5. In the spirit of Easter, Southcentre Mall and Wishlist Productions will being making donations to Calgary Health Trust in support of the development of a specialized pediatric emergency unit at South Health Campus.

Easter Eggstravaganza at the Calgary Zoo
April 14 & 15, 9am to 2pm; In Partnership with Calgary’s Child Magazine. At the Calgary Zoo, jumping is strongly encouraged! Bounce around the Zoo and experience multiple event zones bound to keep your family hopping all day long. All activities are free with regular admission. For more details on this egg-stra special family-friendly event, visit the website.

National Service Dogs Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs (and Children)
April 14, 10am to 11:30am; Join for a fun-filled morning collecting dog-treat filled Easter eggs on the southwest lawn of Calaway Park! All funds raised will go to support National Service Dogs mandate of raising and training accredited service dogs for individuals with special needs. Everyone leaves with prizes, with the highest fundraisers being eligible for Big prizes! Visit the website for more information.

Easter Sunday Swims at The City of Calgary Recreation
April 16; Don’t miss out on free swimming at Acadia, Inglewood, Killarney, and Churchill Aquatic Centres! For times at specific facilities, visit the website.

Eating Out With Young Children

 

by Calgary’s Child Magazine

Going out for dinner is the easiest way we know to tame the “What’s for Dinner” battle cry! A night out at a restaurant can be a big treat for everyone in the family, especially if it’s a new experience for your smaller children. We’ve heard many stories from families (the good, the bad and the ugly), about their restaurant experiences.

First, identify family-friendly restaurants in your area — does it have a children’s menu, high chairs, booster seats, and children’s activities available? What’s the noise level like? Is it easy to navigate through the tables to get to the bathroom? What’s the target demographic for the restaurant?

Before you even step out of the car, outline your expectations to your children about good restaurant behavior. Keep them simple. The use of inside voices, the importance of staying seated at the table (no running through the restaurant,) and good manners are three great rules to start.

Don’t hesitate to cut your dinner short and leave if your children don’t behave. It’s a shame to waste an evening out, but most restaurants are able to quickly pack up your leftovers so you can make a rapid exit. In our experience (depending on your children’s ages) you only need to leave halfway through dinner once and kids learn that you are serious about these expectations.

Breakfast and lunch are an ideal time to introduce your children to restaurants and teach them the rules. With lower prices, and faster service, it’s often easier to enjoy a successful outing. If you want to try eating dinner somewhere a little more upscale, consider going right when the restaurant opens for the evening (4 or 5pm, usually) to reduce the stress of long lines, noisy dining rooms and slow service. Food courts and buffets offer a large selection of food, making them excellent choices for picky eaters without the formality of table service.

If your kids get tired of chicken nuggets off the kids menu and want to try what you’re having, either split a larger portion or consider ordering off the appetizer menu. It’s a great opportunity to let them experience new flavors without committing to a jumbo entree.

Hungry children are not patient. Plan to go to the restaurant half an hour your child’s regular dinner time to reduce fussing. Bring some crackers or cereal along in a small baggie just in case the wait becomes too much to bear. If your child isn’t drinking from a regular cup yet, don’t forget to bring their sippy cup; wait staff are usually more than happy to refill it with water if you ask.

When you arrive, order the children’s food immediately even if you’re not ready yet to order yours yet. If the restaurant is busy, this will ensure yours child’s order gets in early. They’ll have lots of time to linger over dessert while you finish your main course.

Take along a coloring book, a small quiet toy to play with or a book to read at the table.  Some inventive parents we know pack a special restaurant bag with toys and treats that only comes out at the restaurant. Keep your children entertained with simple games, like ‘I Spy’ or tic-tac-toe with the sugar packets. Our children even polished up on math skills by learning to add creamers and sugar packets.

A trip to the bathroom can be a good distracting technique for a restless child. Try going after you order and before the food arrives — it might save a trip in the middle of the meal.

We always pack a washcloth or pre-packaged wipes to help cleanup during or after the meal; nobody wants to be the parent who leaves a disaster area behind. While messes happen, don’t forget to tip generously if cleanup will be more than usual and do what you can to demonstrate good social behavior to your kids by tidying up after yourselves a little on your way out.

With a little pre-planning, eating out with the kids can be a great way to expand their palates and teach them pro-social behavior in public. Bon appetit!

Are You Sleepy?

Written by Dr. Susan Bartell; photo: Fotolia.com

pg81-AskElizabeth[1]Are you tired? Me too! But, guess what… your child or teen is probably even more tired. In fact, 80 per cent of teens, and nearly 70 per cent of kids under 10 are sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation can be a significant problem for kids, interfering with almost every aspect of their lives.

Tiredness can make it difficult to learn and retain information in the classroom, cause distractibility and difficulties with attention, (it can be mistaken for ADHD) and may even result in a child falling asleep in school or while doing homework. Sleep deprivation may reduce a child’s motivation to participate in activities or cause kids to become cranky, impatient and badly behaved in social situations.

The first week in March (leading up to Daylight Savings Time in many areas) gives us an opportunity to consider the most common reasons that kids become deprived and then do our best to ensure that they get more sleep:

The sleep stealer: No time to sleep! Many kids and teens have schedules so busy that they simply can’t get to bed early enough to get at least eight hours of sleep.

The sleep solution: Cut down on extracurricular activities. This is the answer if your child doesn’t have time to do homework, eat, bathe and relax for 30 minutes before bed.

The sleep stealer: Too much screen time! When viewed right before bed, the TV, computer, cell phone or other electronic screens can interfere with your child’s ability to relax and dial back brain activity in preparation for sleep. In addition, too much screen time during the day wastes time, making it difficult for your child to complete all tasks and activities before bed.

The sleep solution: Turn off the screens. All ‘screens’ should be turned off at least 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime. Resist the urge to allow a TV in your child’s bedroom and ensure that, at night, the cell phone is also docked in another room. If your child can’t ‘resist’ the computer or handheld games, be sure to have strict, enforced rules to limit their use.

The sleep stealer: Wrecked routines! When your child’s bedtime is different each night, chaotic, loud or stressful, it is much more likely to result in difficulty falling and staying asleep. In addition, without a routine, your child is much less likely to get the recommended number of hours of shut-eye.

The sleep solution: Kids are much more likely to get enough sleep when they have a predictable, soothing bedtime routine. Start at the same time every night, and include bathroom activities, reading or a quiet game and then end with a short hug and kiss. Don’t get into bed with your child. Instead, teach them how to ‘self-soothe’ by encouraging them to fall asleep on their own – without your help.

The sleep stealer: As with adults, snoring can cause chronic sleep deprivation for kids because they never get a good night’s sleep, even if they seem to be getting enough hours of sleep. Some reasons that kids snore include enlarged tonsils or adenoids, being overweight, allergies and sleep apnea.
The sleep solution: Although it may seem minor, snoring is a sign that something is not quite right with your child’s health. When your child snores routinely (not just when they have a cold), it’s important to talk to their health professional about what may be causing it. Don’t quit searching for the answer until you find it! Your child may not know it now, but they will thank you later.

Dr. Susan Bartell is America’s #1 Family Psychologist. Her latest parenting book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about her at www.drsusanbartell.com.

Bicycle Helmet Safety from Calgary EMS

p48-BikeSenseEvery year Calgary paramedics respond to traumatic emergencies where helmets have prevented a serious injury or saved a life.

Bicycle crashes are the leading cause of brain injury in school aged children. The majority of bicycle injuries do not involve motor vehicles. Most often injuries occur when a cyclist suffers a fall, strikes a stationary object like a pole, or collides with a pedestrian or another cyclist. Unfortunately there are still a significant number of people that do not wear helmets, however it is Alberta law that anyone under 18 years of age must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. It is also highly advisable to wear a CSA approved helmet when using a skateboard, in-line skates, or a scooter.

Getting Started
• Allow children to assist in choosing their own helmet– cyclists who choose their own helmet are more likely to wear them.
• Make a habit of wearing helmets early, even if young children are learning on a tricycle.
• One simple rule: no helmet, no cycling. Make the rule and stick to it consistently.
• Lead by example– always wear your own helmet!
• A helmet that has been in a crash must be replaced, even if it appears undamaged.
• Replace your helmet every five years even if it hasn’t been in a crash. UV rays will weaken the helmet over time.

Getting the Right Fit
• The helmet should rest level on the head, never tilted high or low over the forehead.
• The helmet should feel snug, but not too tight. It should not fall off when you shake your head from side to side while the straps are unfastened.
• Adjust the chin straps to form a “Y” below and slightly forward from the ears.
• Only one finger should be able to fit under the chin strap when it is fastened.
• Use the sizing pads included with the helmet to improve the comfort and fit.

Getting Informed
• A brain injury is not like a broken bone – it may never fully heal.
• A brain injury can lead to permanent disability or death.
• The cost of a helmet is easily justified. Research demonstrates wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by 85%.
• Statistics show that all cyclist fatalities in children under the age of 15 were unhelmeted.
• Remember: all cyclists’ crash eventually!
• Calgary paramedics are doing their part– every year the Calgary Paramedics Charity Society gives away 500 bicycle helmets to less fortunate children.

Valentine’s and Family Day Fun!

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Photo: Fotolia.com

Family Valentine’s Crafts and Cookies at Southland Leisure Centre
February 14, two times available: 9:30 to 11:30am and 6:30 to 8:30pm. Make some Valentine’s crafts for family and friends, and enjoy some light refreshments! 2000 Southland Drive SW. calgary.ca

In The Heat of the Night at the Calgary Zoo
February 14, 6 to 10pm. Love and Courtship in the Wild. Get all dressed up for In the Heat of the Night, the Calgary Zoo’s annual adventure into the world of critter romance. Enjoy a romantic Valentine’s dinner in the ENMAX Conservatory, with unbeatable ambience. After your meal, the Zoo will start their special presentations on courtship and mating in the animal world. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website. The Calgary Zoo ENMAX Conservatory – 1300 Zoo Road NE.

Funtastic Family Fair at Village Square Leisure Centre
February 15, 6 to 8pm. Participate in games, face painting, try your creativity with some arts & crafts, sit back and enjoy some entertainment! If you choose to use the pool or weight room, receive a 50 per cent discount on admission. 2623, 56 Street NE. calgary.ca

FISHtival at Bow Habitat Station
February 18, 10am to 4pm. Kick off the Family Day Weekend at FISHtival! There will be free outdoor activities, including casting games, ice fishing safety, and marshmallow roasting. Warm up inside the Discovery Centre with even more fishy fun – including crafts, games, and prizes – at a special rate of $5 per person. Due to capacity, no strollers allowed. Free for children 3 and under. Bow Habitat Station: 1440, 17A Street SE. Website.

Puppet Pop-Up Studio: Veggie Puppets!
February 18, 1 to 3pm. Do you like playing with your food? What can you make from a zucchini? Or a potato? A puppet, of course! Make a puppet from an array of provided vegetables and act in the group’s tall tale about gardening. Take your puppet home to either eat or compost. Donations to the Food Bank kindly accepted. Please note that children and teens must participate with an adult! For ages 4+. 1204 89 Avenue SW. Website.

The City of Calgary Parks: We are Family Event
February 19, 1 to 3pm. Enjoy an afternoon of fun-filled activities for all ages during the Family Day weekend at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. There will be nature-themed crafts, a bingo-style scavenger hunt, and spotting scopes available for viewing the sanctuary’s high flyers! Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. calgary.ca/parksevents

Fort Calgary WinterFest
February 20, 10am to 5pm. Join Fort Calgary for a day of family activities including a Quebecois sugar shack, traditional Blackfoot winter stories, a dream catcher making workshop, Mountie uniform try-on, a kids’ historical play in the theatre, and various kids’ games and learning activities throughout the day. Fort Calgary – 750, 9 Avenue SE. fortcalgary.com

Family Day at Studio Bell
February 20, 10am to 5pm. Studio Bell is opening its doors on a Monday for a special Family Day event! Join to save $50 on a NMC Family Membership (offer only available in-person on February 20) and join for all-day family fun that includes live music and pop-up shows; Sound Sandwich instrument crafts; NMC Educators located throughout the building to help you rock out; and Kimball Theatre Organ performances at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. 850, 4 Street SE. studiobell.ca/whats-on

Free Family Fun Day at Eau Claire Market
February 20, 11am to 4pm. Enjoy Live Entertainment, a Magician, Petting Zoo, Carnival Games, Face Painting, and much more! Featuring an Artisan Market by MarketSpot YYC! Eau Claire Market – 200 Barclay Parade. eauclairemarket.com/e-upcoming-events.asp

Shouldice Family Day Event
February 20, 12pm to 4pm. Enjoy your Family Day at Shouldice Aquatic Centre & Shouldice Arena! There will be free outdoor activities, hot chocolate, swimming, and skating!

Free Family Day Public Skate at Vivo
February 20, 12pm to 4pm. Join Vivo and MLA Kleinsteuber for an afternoon of fun! Cross skating off the Participaction 150 Play List with this Free Public Skate. And while you’re at Vivo, why not cross off a few more activites?! Vivo’s Play Ambassadors will be on-site to help you and your family try out and cross off: disc golf; scootering; kayaking (on dryland, scooter versions!); horseshoes; 4 square; kin-ball; badminton; field hockey; obstacle course; tug of war. 11950 Country Village Link NE. vivo.ca

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.