A Community that stays together
by Kisha Andrews, Community Worker in Training
After two months of planning, I actually completed my first March Break program with over 200 children throughout the week. I never expected it to be so chaotic but enjoyable at the same time. The up side of doing this March Break Program is having a group of volunteers and team leaders that can cohesively provide a program for such a large number of children. During the planning process I was in charge of contacting some of the organizations that would become guests at our program. Sometimes it felt a little frustrating to try to get a timely response from some of our contacts. But when they did confirm that they were coming, it felt like smooth sailing, especially knowing that we had all of our days booked within the week. The fact that they would sometimes arrive 45 minutes late, built up so much anticipation, that I felt like I just wanted to get the program rolling.
Our program consisted of three activities: painting clay pots, planting pea shoots, and eating salad rolls they made themselves. The final component of the program that we created was a tour of the greenhouse. In my opinion the tour can set the time barriers within the program. It can either go really fast, being that the children have been there multiple times and they are bored. Or really slow, if they are intrigued by every single plant in the greenhouse. My role as the coordinator was to conduct a tour for the children and their staff, also to help with the preparation of the other activities. I felt a little embarrassed when they would ask about a particular plant, and I had no idea what the name of that plant was. I was not completely ready for the tour, and I think I should have made more notes on the plants within the greenhouse, but the more I went through the greenhouse with the children, I felt more confident about the plants that I did read about. Shockingly they were interested in the plants that looked less distinctive, but pretty in color.
This whole experience for me has been a mixture of organization, reliability, preparation, and an open mind. It’s a great feeling to know that I have gained program management skills, which I can use in my future career. Another plus side of this opportunity was the feeling of our community coming together. It is an experience that I will always remember. From the beginnning of my practicum at Green Thumbs, I have developed a realization of the importance of early childhood education. Putting a lot of thought into what we want children in our communities to learn is very important. Having a green house program, such as the one at Allan gardens; shows children that they can grow their own food, and have fun at the same time. I really hope that this organization and others like it, grow into other communities within the GTA.