The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
In 2008, the Ontario government introduced a new holiday to bring families back to traditional values and to the importance of home values.
Or, some say, it was to break up the long period without holidays between New Year’s Day and Good Friday.
Trent Bruzzese, of Welland, his son Jaxson, 5, and daughter Brooklyn, eight months, took part in the free Family Day event put on by the YMCA and Welland Mayors Youth Council on Monday. Photo by Kristen Spruit
Family Day, the third Monday in February, is recognized as a statutory holiday in Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan, as well as Ontario.
In support of bringing families together to share quality time, the Welland YMCA, in partnership with the Welland Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC), hosted the YMCA Family Fun Day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., providing free swimming and activities to members and the community.
The child and youth program co-ordinator at the YMCA, Jamie Read says, the event is important because it provides activities for families.
“It’s a relatively new holiday, so there’s not that much going on. So it’s important to run an event, and we found there’s a desire for it in the community.”
Activities included an inflatable bouncer, bingo, face painting and crafts, children’s open play centre and organized games. Most popular was the free public swimming.
Trent Bruzzese, of Welland, father to five-year-old Jaxson, two- year-old Ayla, eight-month-old Brooklyn and his wife say their children enjoyed the swimming, face painting and playing in the open gym.
“This is the first year we’ve done something like this for Family Day. Typically, we just stay home and relax, but this is the first time we did something to this extent where the whole family came out and had a fun day.”
Other parents, such as Tricia Rattei and Ernie Violette, both of Welland, say they came to the event with their children because it was free.
The day’s event was offered without cost as only the YMCA’s supplies and facilities were used, and the event was run by YMCA volunteers, and YMCA student volunteers.
Recreational Therapist student at Niagara College, Melissa Skerritt, is doing her field placement with the YMCA and assisted with Monday’s event. She supervised activities such as colouring, crafts and board games, and by “making sure everything [was] going as planned.”
“I think it’s a good event because it brings families and kids out to do something rather than just sitting at home. It gets people involved.”
Read says about 200 parents and children attended the event, putting the building close to full capacity.