For children in Vancouver's inner-city facing both social and economic barriers, Spring Break can be a time of loneliness, hunger, boredom and neglect.
Even though Vancouver public schools are officially closed March 21 to April 1 for a two week Spring Break, the folks at KidSafe Project Society open up the school doors providing care for vulnerable children from six inner city elementary schools on the East Side.
KidSafe, in partnership with the Vancouver School Board, provides free full day programming, nutritious meals and field trips during Spring Break for children referred to the program by their schools.
Programming is offered to children who attend Queen Alexandra, Admiral Seymour, Sir William MacDonald, Grandview/?uuqinak'uuh, Florence Nightingale, and Mount Pleasant Elementary. It is expected more than 300 children from Kindergarten to Grade 7 will take part. KidSafe is based on two core principles: All services and programs are offered free of charge and all children are referred by school staff as being at-risk students.
"At KidSafe we offer emotional support, nutritious meals, and positive developmental activities aimed at helping children build confidence and self-esteem, while providing them with opportunities for social development. KidSafe provides children with the tools they need to be healthy, contributing, and caring citizens said Gerhard Maynard, Executive Director of the KidSafe Project Society.
This Spring, KidSafe has a number of activities planned including literacy programs, gardening and nature activities, art activities, and lots of physical activity which includes team building games. There are a number of field trip outings planned including visits to the Vancouver Aquarium, the Space Centre, and the Police Museum.
In addition to these activities, KidSafe provides a full day's nutrition with a large breakfast, lunch and a big snack to fill kids up before they leave for home at the end of the day.
Rintoul explains that at KidSafe they ensure programming develops each child's literacy skills; leadership skills; health and wellness; knowledge of science, nature and sustainability; and exposure to arts and culture. "We support the whole child by providing a safe place, purposeful activities, and positive experiences" said Rintoul.
KidSafe's vision is that all children live in a safe community with the inspiration and support they deserve to become healthy contributing citizens.
KidSafe is unique as well since the program takes place at neighbourhood schools. "The kids are comfortable in coming to our program since it's in their school," said Rintoul.
For more information about KidSafe programs at Vancouver schools at (604) 713-4467
Follow them on Twitter @kidsafeproject or at their website www.kidsafe.ca