EarlyOn picnic offers fun for kids; info for parents


The 18th annual EarlyOn Child and Family Centre Picnic is ready to run this Tuesday, June 4, (10am-1pm) at Barrie’s Sunnidale Park.

The popular annual event will unite children, caregivers, and community partners for a packed afternoon of activities, entertainment, and community information for young families. Empower Simcoe CEO Claudine Cousins says the event will also feature fan favourites like Barrie police and their police cars and Barrie Fire with their fire trucks, “Cause everyone loves a fire truck!”

Other participating community members include public libraries, Barrie’s RVH, Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, and the Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle (B.A.N.A.C).

EarlyOn centres may be some of the best-kept secrets for young families. The centre, which is free to use, provides a safe environment for children up to six years old to play, as well as snack time, circle activities, educational resources, and ample opportunities for parents to socialize.

“Part of what we provide is a creative experience where kids come together and participate in activities where they use their creative thinking and problem solving, while learning to share, and learn to take turns,” says Cousins, adding it’s the centres’ staff who bring it all together. “Our teams are very welcoming and believe there is no wrong question. They believe that in order to support the child, you have to support the family. It’s very much a holistic approach to how we support children, youth, and families.”

In addition to drop-in play times, the centres also provide uniquely-themed programs, such as one designed specifically for grandparents. “One of the many challenges in Simcoe County we noticed is that grandparents have stepped up to raise their children’s children, so they need supports,” explains Cousins. “We have stepped into that breach to provide a number of services and supports to help grandparents.”

Centre staff is also eager to provide a wealth of information on child development, nutrition, education, and a host of key topics.

EarlyOn’s two main sites include the location on Ferris Lane in Barrie and on Barrie Street in Bradford. There are also numerous satellite sites across Simcoe County within recreation centres, libraries, and apartment buildings.

“A lot of times people tell us we didn’t know about you, and we want that to change,” says Cousins, adding, “We want them to say we know all about you.”

You can find out more about the EarlyOn and its programs this Tuesday from 10am-1pm at Barrie’s Sunnidale Park or online.