Raising Children while co-parenting workshop

co-parenting workshopThe YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford has set up a Co-Parenting workshop with Gary Direnfeld, a reputable social worker and host of the TV show Newly Wed, Nearly Dead.  The workshop will focus on the challenges of raising a child between more than one household.  It is being held on Tuesday April 9, 2013 from 7-8:30pm at the YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services office located at 38 Darling Street – Suite 201.  This workshop is open to all members of the community, free of charge.  Families register with Christina Wood 905-317-4907 or christina_wood@ymca.ca and let her know how many people will be attending including any children as we will offer free child care services to those families for the duration of the workshop.  Spaces are limited. 

A Message from Our Executive Director ~ Sharon Brooks

January is a wonderful way to start the year off with new resolutions and new habits.  Someone told me that their New Year’s resolution was to spend more time with their family.  They set goals to have dinner together at least three times a week and plan one family time event, a game night, a walk at App’s Mill or a skate at Harmony Square.  About Children’s Health has a great top five family New Year’s resolutions… it is not too late to start!  Top Five Family New Year’s Resolutions

 January is starting off to be very busy for Kids Can Fly. Here are some events and happenings in the upcoming months. 

Parachute Program -Transitioning to Parenthood

Transitioning to Parenthood will resume meeting every Wed afternoons from 1:30 until 3:00 p.m. at St Andrews Church 95 Darling St on January 9th, 2013.  This free program has child care and a free taxi if needed.    Join other moms for some baby time and a break to discuss the challenges of life with a new baby.   For more info call Jane 519 755 9482.     

On January 16th, 2013:  Special Guest Speaker Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), will present  on post partum depression to moms, partners or service providers at the Parachute Program on Wednesday, January 16th between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.  For more information call Sharon 519 448 1713 or info@kidscanfly.ca  

The Young Author’s Project

The Young Author’s Project, a project of Kids Can Fly, the County of Brant Public Library and the Brantford Expositor has been short listed for the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Tourism Awards and the winner will be announced at the Ontario Library Super-Conference Gala in Toronto January 31, 2013.  

The Launch Pad

The Launch Pad, early child development and parenting centre runs Tuesday to Friday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon with Jane Flinders RECEC.  Located at Graham Bell Victoria School – 56 Grand St Brantford, this program is open to all, free and has a taxi service if needed.  Come for songs, stories, creative art, dress up and many fun activities with other children and parents.  Geared for children 0 – 5 years.  Call Jane at  519 755 9482 for more information. PLEASE NOTE: The Launch Pad at Graham Bell-Victoria School will be closed on Friday, January 11 as a result of the Day of Protest being conducted by elementary teachers   

Storybook Breakfast

Kids Can Fly in partnership with Scotiabank present the 6th annual Storybook Breakfast on February 9th with two seatings at 9:00 am or 11:00 am.


Come and meet all your favourite Storybook Characters and get their autographs. Enjoy a hot buffet breakfast and get your photo taken with your favourite character.Tickets will go on sale on Saturday, January 19th at Scotiabank’s Lynden Road location ONLY starting at 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. If any tickets are left, they will be sold at the Lynden Road location during banking hours.


Sharon Brooks
Executive Director, Kids Can Fly

Give A Gift that Warms the Heart










 Honour a special teacher by making a donation in their name ~ get the whole class involved.

For donations over $60.00 your teacher will receive a personalized certificate and a copy of Dolly’s favorite book, The Little Engine that Could”

You could also register a child for a year for $60.00 and they will receive a book every month in the mail.  Collect in your office or social group.  Make a donation on behalf of your employees.

Kids Can Fly and the Imagination Library has over 100 children on a waiting list and inquires daily!  You can make a difference in our community.  It is proven that early learning effects the outcomes not only in school but health and behaviour. 

“Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More” Dolly Parton

  Thank you!

Expositor Front Page Features Kids Can Fly Board Member

The Brantford Expositor featured a story about Joe Persia on Saturday, September 22, 2012.  Joe has been a volunteer board member for Kids Can Fly for the past three years and his focus has been on early learning, particularly early literacy.  Joe brought the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to Kids Can Fly through the Rotary Club of Brantford-Sunrise.

Kindergarten teacher Joe Persia gives helps Maya Jurowski-Cubitt with some work at Notre-Dame school on Thursday. – CHRISTOPHER SMITH, The Expositor

Just as Joe is breaking tradition in his work life by being a kindergarten teacher, Joe is the only male on the Kids Can Fly board.  “It has added insight and perspective to have a male kindergarten teacher on the board”, says Sharon Brooks, Executive Director of Kids Can Fly.   “By bringing the Imagination Library to the Brantford and Brant County community, it has changed the  Kids Can Fly focus.  We use the Imagination Library as foundation program to reach parents of children aged 0-5 years old.”

“It’s incredibly important for children to have good male role models in their lives. Joe has made a life commitment in studying early learning and development. He not only has the education to be able to bring to the kindergarten classroom, but he also has the kindness and empathy a teacher needs to work with children at that age.” said Patti Berardi, chair of Kids Can Fly who has worked with Joe on a various projects over the years.

Currently, there are 588 children receiving books every month in Brantford and Brant County through the Imagination Library.  Unfortunately, we have had to stop taking registrations until more funding is available and are taking names for a waiting list.  To add your child to the waiting list, click here.

Kids Can Fly is proud of Joe and his ground breaking work both in his teaching career and volunteer career.

For Full Expositor story, go to  http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2012/09/21/its-elementary

Kids Can Fly – Friends of Major Ballachey

Kids Can Fly is supporting the Friends of Major Ballachey in their campaign to improve literacy skills in their younger grades through the use of educational technology.  We are aware of the high needs of the children in this school catchment area and were instrumental in establishing the Early Learning and Parenting Centre there in 2004.  We know that 27% of children in our community do NOT graduate from high school and that a child’s literacy level at grade 3 usually is indicative of their long term success.

Major Ballachey school in Brantford has made it a priority to improve literacy in their Kindergarten and primary students.  The school was a pilot for the new Full Day Kindergarten Program and has implemented the Ministry of Education’s newest curriculum and methods.

Research has shown that the use of technology in Kindergarten and primary classrooms can lead to improvements in literacy.  Recent research on the use of  iPads showed that “students on all grade levels showed improvement in literacy areas including, making learning visible, writing compositions, digital storytelling, and, for kindergarten classes – handwriting and phonemic awareness, improvement reported in math included: the concepts underlying basic operations, logical problem solving, patterns and puzzles, spatial reasoning, and making learning visible.” On the basis of these findings Major Ballachey has made the purchasing of educational technology (iPads) for their Kindergarten and primary classes a priority.

Major Ballachey strives to meet the educational needs of a diverse range of students. Some of the families whose children attend Major Ballachey have limited resources to support their child’s education. 

The Grand Erie District School Board of Education’s compensatory schools ranking ranks schools based on family income, family education, and the number of single parent families. The rankings identified Major Ballachey School as serving some of the neediest students in the board area.

There are already many programs and supports in place to address the exceptional needs of some students. Programs such as the Daily Snack Program, the Boys & Girls Club of Brantford after-school program, the “Best Start Early Years and Parenting Centre’, the “Strong Start Early Literacy Program” and many extra supports provided to the school through GEDSB Compensatory Schools Designation help make Major Ballachey a supportive environment for students.  In spite of these many programs some students fail to develop effective early literacy skills. This causes cumulative learning problems both in later grades and into adulthood.

Improving literacy in our Kindergarten and primary students (grades 1-3) is a major focus for the school. The school was a pilot site for the new Full Day Kindergarten Program and has implemented the Ministry of Education’s newest curriculum and methods.

Recent research has shown that the use of technology in Kindergarten and primary classrooms can lead to improvements in literacy. The Maine Kindergarten Pilot showed that “students on all grade levels showed improvement in literacy areas including, making learning visible, writing compositions, digital storytelling, and, for kindergarten classes – handwriting and phonemic awareness. Improvement reported in math included: the concepts underlying basic operations, logical problem solving, patterns and puzzles, spatial reasoning, and making learning visible.” On the basis of these findings Major Ballachey has made the purchasing of educational technology (iPads) for our Kindergarten and primary classes a priority.  The school’s recent fundraising campaign was kicked off by informing students that all money raised would be used to purchase tablet technology for the school. Students responded by exceeding the school target, but we are still far short of what we need.

We plan to purchase two class sets of iPads (60). The iPads will be used in the Kindergarten and primary classes to help students build literacy skills, and will be available to improve the education of all students at Major Ballachey for the rest of the day. This program will give approximately 120 students (over half the school) daily access to the most up to date and effective methods of improving literacy skills that we are aware of.  We are focussing on the Kindergarten and primary classes to maximize the long term benefits of the program. Students who develop better literacy skills at a young age carry those skills, and the confidence gained, into higher grades. They stay in school longer, are more likely to graduate high school and to become productive members of society.

We are calling on local businesses, service groups and community members to make this dream a reality for Major Ballachey.  Donations can be made online or by mailing cheques to Kids Can Fly, 110 German School Road, R.R. #1, Paris, Ontario, N3L 3E1.  Tax receipts will be issued.

I want to help Major Ballachey purchase iPads

Donation Options

Technology & Learning


From our Board Chair, Patti Berardi (This is my opinion based on my experiences at the Brain Power Conference)

Last week, I had a chance to attend the Brain Power Conference in Toronto. It was presented by the Brain Power Initiative and featured a variety of presentations from neuroscientists, educators and parents.  I attended the conference with representatives from Kids Can Fly.

I first became involved with Kids Can Fly about 10 years ago when I took over the role as First Local Producer for Rogers TV in Brantford. Sharon Brooks, the Executive Director of Kids Can Fly approached me to cover stories surrounding early learning and development.  It was then that I learned about Brain Wiring and how a child’s early experiences affect their future success.  At the time, I was newly married and didn’t have children but I was incredibly intrigued about the research surrounding brain wiring and human development.  I became committed to advocating and educating the public about Kids Can Fly programs and early learning issues.  In 2005, I gave birth to my first son.  I felt so blessed to have had the chance to learn so much about parenting through my work with Sharon.  In 2007, I gave birth to my second son and signed up to be a parent for Roots of Empathy.  My son and I visited a grade 3 classroom throughout the school year. While I had covered Roots of Empathy, I didn’t really get a chance to fully understand the impact of the program until I participated.  It was an incredible experience and I treasure those memories.  After that experience, I committed to being a part of Kids Can Fly and joined the board in 2008. I believe in the work that we do and I’m fueled by the results we have achieved in Brant. 

Attending the conference last week was a chance for me to hear from researchers first-hand about brain development. My background is journalism and broadcasting and even though I have read countless articles in this area, I have no formal education in child development.  What I wasn’t expecting was to hear about the use of technology and particularly TV and videogames to help train a child’s brain.  I work in a technical world. I don’t take notes on paper anymore, I use a tablet.  My blackberry has become an extension of my hand. I’m always in front of a computer or TV for my work.  As a parent though, I have to admit that I fought allowing my kids to use a lot of technology.  Sure, they watched TV when they were little and we bought into the Baby Einstein thing (which proves now to be ineffective) but I just allowed them to start playing with the wii, a DS and now a tablet recently.  I do limit their time though.  I realized that part of a child’s social life is discussing things that they play with and most kids watch tv, have a DS and have been exposed to technology.  I also recognize the benefits of making learning fun! 

What researchers have found is that there is a place for videogames and technology in training a child’s brain. I’m not talking about Lego Batman or Halo, I’m talking about developmental appropriate TV programs and videogames that make learning fun!  I admit when it came up at the conference I had to stifle my “mom voice”.  I thought you have to be kidding me? Videogames to teach my kids? Come on? What am I being sold on?

After listening to speakers present their findings in this area, I realized that it makes sense. Kids enjoy playing with games and technology, why not build programming that is developmental appropriate because they’re going to play video games anyway?

Dr. Sylvain Moreno from Baycrest’s Rotman Institute has focused his research on bilingualism and musical training and how it affects the higher order processes in the brain such as language, memory and intelligence.  He has studied musical training and bilingualism as experiences that depend on brain plasticity to modify cognitive networks.  Brain Plasticity is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on experiences.  Through the use of his “Smarter Kids” software, a group of pre-schoolers were able to show a boost in verbal IQ scores after only using a computer based music program featuring cartoon characters and games for 20 days of classroom instruction.  The children scored some five times higher than kids who did not receive a program based on musical concepts.

A teacher at the conference also presented on the benefits of using computers and I-Pads in Grade 3 classrooms in a Toronto Private School.  Children in the classes used the Sims Videogame to build cities and the teachers were able to relate the video game to civic lessons.  The groups of students collaborated and worked on building these communities.  They had to work as a group, discuss what the best things were to give people living in these “communities” and delved into issues such as taxes, city services and much more.  These students also use web blogs to write and other students can provide feedback and evaluation.  More examples of how technology can be beneficial if used in the right way.

After listening to the presentations, I started to realize that we can no longer look at teaching our children the same traditional way.  Technology is here and if we can use it to their benefit and ensure that they have age appropriate programs to work with we can actually improve their success in learning.

Still, my mom voice resonates! Children under the age of 2 should not be exposed to a lot of TV and certainly not video games.  After that age, the use of age appropriate programming can be beneficial but nothing will be more beneficial than spending time with your children. When you hold a child on your lap and read a book to them so much is happening in their development.  You’re creating experiences of bonding, early learning and family closeness.  Children need that touch and human contact. Placing a child in front of an I-Pad, TV or computer doesn’t give them that chance to bond with you.

Talking to your children, playing with them and spending time with them also builds good brains!  There is no doubt that technology will play a role in your child’s life, but parents should be cautious that it doesn’t over-take an opportunity to spend time together.

For more information on the research of Dr. Sylvain Moreno and Smarter Kids Software visit http://www.baycrest.org/