Going back many years now, Campbell River families have swarmed the Community Centre on one day in the middle of November to celebrate children.
National Child Day serves as a reminder that children and youth are to be protected from all forms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation and have the right to be safe and grow up in a healthy environment. That day is Nov. 20.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it would be irresponsible to flood the Community Centre with rambunctious youngsters having their faces painted, putting on fun little plays, climbing through imaginary cities made of cardboard boxes, painting pictures, making crafts and just being free to be kids.
But because the annual event also serves as a way for local organizations to get the word out to families about the services they offer, the Campbell River Family Network decided it was important to still do what they could to celebrate the day and give those service providers an outlet to strut their stuff while still making it fun for the kids.
The Campbell River Family Network is a coalition of not-for-profit organizations that work collaboratively on projects or initiatives that “enhance our community in ways that are supportive to families,” according to Joyce McMann with Campbell River Family Services.
“We weren’t able to do the Children’s Health Fair that we normally do in April, and now with National Child Day coming up and things gradually starting to reopen, we felt it was important to start to reconnect people with the services that are available within the community,” says Jennifer Furst with the City of Campbell River, one of the partners in the coalition.
It’s a great opportunity, McMann agrees, for local organizations to tell local families how they’re weathering the COVID storm and moving forward.
“Everything shut down,” McMann says, “and now people are wondering, ‘Is that open? What’s happening with this? What’s happening with that?’ and we needed a strategy to reacquaint people with what actually is available right now under these challenging circumstances.”
What they settled on was to use the “Helping Children in Campbell River” Facebook page where they could post short clips from the organizations over the course of two weeks so people could come and check in at their leisure rather than at set times.
But it’s not all about publicity for different organizations and service agencies in the community. It’s also about fun.
“We’re working on ways to bring a participation aspect into it and make it as fun as it can be,” says Cheryl Jordan with the Campbell River Literacy Association. “There might even be some prizes for things like the ‘at-home cardboard city’ we’re asking people to do, where they can make a fort or something in their living room, that kind of thing.”
The idea came to the group quite organically.
“We were looking around at what some other communities were doing, and there were a lot of things moving online on Zoom,” Jordan says. “But I know there are a lot of people out there who are pretty Zoomed out right now, so a couple of us started brainstorming to see how we could make it happen in a way that would benefit the families as well as the organizations and agencies, without being boring or stale.
“So we’re looking at maybe three to five clips per day going up on the Facebook page,” Jordan continues. “We don’t want to overwhelm people, and we’ve kept the videos down under five minutes from each agency or organization, and it’s up to them how they want to showcase what they’re doing or if they just want to share a fun activity of some kind.”
So head over to facebook.com/helpingchildrenincampbellriver and follow along as the posts roll out between Nov. 16 and 27 to see the fun being had and learn a bit more about the services currently available for families in our community.
“We’re hoping to replicate what the fair would normally be, minus the noise and the face painting,” McMann says.