Chelsea Blanchard and Tania Stretch take a break with Gemma and William during the Healthy Start To Learning event at Aggie Hall May 27.

Chelsea Blanchard and Tania Stretch take a break with Gemma and William during the Healthy Start To Learning event at Aggie Hall May 27.

A healthy start can last a lifetime for children

A kids’ carnival atmosphere prevailed at Aggie Hall May 27 as social service providers and families got together

A kids’ carnival atmosphere prevailed at Aggie Hall May 27 as social service providers and families got together to share information and learn a bit about each other during the eighth annual Healthy Start to Learning event.

The annual gathering of family social service providers, and parents of kids aged up to 6 years, is hosted for the Ladysmith-Chemainus School District by Ladysmith Families and Friends (LaFF). And as you would hope, the toddlers have a great time with face painting, music and healthy pizza snacks all round, provided by the Lion’s Club.

Blended in with the fun and games, is a serious initiative to introduce families to the service providers they may need during their children’s early years; and to introduce 20 or so family oriented service providers to the families and other agencies in their community.

“This is a great opportunity for them to come and connect with families, and to network and understand who’s doing what in our community to serve families,” said Jacqueline Neligan, executive director of LaFF.

It’s also an opportunity for families to meet directly with providers, gain supports, and realize what services are available here.

“We all do struggle with issues down the road,” she said, “and so it’s normalizing those issues, realizing there is amazing, tremendous community support here in Ladysmith for families, and it’s connecting those families to that support.”

An early start can make a big difference down the road. “It’s all about early intervention and prevention, so what a family can do now, in these early years, they can just build upon as their child grows,”Neligan said.

Families are often surprised by the services available to them in the region. “If you connect with a family that has just moved to town, they are overwhelmed by the amount of services that are available to them. The services that are available here are fantastic.”

It’s getting the word out that’s key. “The area that we could work on as a community is making sure that everyone knows what those services are, and how to access them,” Neligan said. “That’s exactly what this event is all about.”