When ‘Prairie Kids’ were born: A look back at the first generation of kids clubs
A group of parents and volunteers has built a network of “kids clubs” across the country that provide a place for children from different backgrounds to come together and meet, play, laugh and sing.
The first Prairie Kids were born in the fall of 2017, and their story has been chronicled by CBC News, with an online version of their story posted last week.
Now, the organization that helped them is looking to continue the work that helped make them.
“When we started out, there was nothing to do for kids,” said Nancy Glynn, the executive director of Prairie Kids.
“There were no social events.
No music, no sports.
There was nothing.”
With the help of the Calgary Youth and Sports Program, which has grown to include about 30 children and adults, Prairie Kids now has a network covering more than 500 children’s clubs in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
With the growth in its network, Glynn said it’s not just about kids, but about the whole family.
“If there is a group of kids that come together in one place, we feel it’s the best place to be for that group,” she said.
Prairie Kids is hoping to grow its membership from 500 to 1,000 over the next two years.
Glynn and the other co-founders say it’s important to continue to expand the program, and that kids from different neighbourhoods, languages and ethnicities are part of the mix.
“We know we have a really hard job, because there are children from a wide range of backgrounds and all ages and backgrounds that want to be part of this, and we want to make sure they can,” Glynn explained.
“I think that’s really important.
I think that there’s no doubt that the kids that we’ve been working with, the children that we’re supporting, and the kids who come out of our clubs, are the ones who are able to be successful.”
For many kids in Calgary, the community has changed since the early days of the program.
“It’s so much better now than it was then, because now the kids can come together at the same time,” said J.B. Johnson, a 13-year-old from Calgary who is part of Prairie Boys and Girls Club.
Johnson has joined the Prairie Kids in the hopes of connecting the club with younger children who may not otherwise be able to go. “
That’s so cool.”
Johnson has joined the Prairie Kids in the hopes of connecting the club with younger children who may not otherwise be able to go.
“One of the things that has changed a lot is that we can now get kids from every age group together.
We have different ethnicities and backgrounds,” Johnson said.
“The kids that I’m going to be seeing, they’re going to have a lot of different interests, and they’re just going to come out here to have fun.”
Prairie Boys’ president Ryan Smith said the program has helped kids from many backgrounds, including from other provinces, that are now coming together to connect.
“You have to keep in mind, this is an age group that is growing, so they’re looking for a place where they can belong, they can have fun,” he said.
As the program grows, the Prairie Boys hope to continue providing more opportunities for the kids from Calgary to come to the community, and help build the program’s network in other cities and regions.
With files from CBC Calgary’s Melissa Molloy