Downtown family program celebrates 20 years this Friday

TORONTO, Aug. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - A popular downtown program that assists parents with young children will celebrate 20 years of community service this Friday (Aug. 22) with a fun-filled anniversary event for families.

Growing Up Healthy Downtown is a unique eight-agency partnership funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada's Community Action Program for Children (CAPC).

"Thousands of families have played, learned and grown together through GUHD programs", said Sophia Ali of Family Service Toronto (FST), which co-ordinates the program. "Since 1994, we have offered stimulating activities and events for parents and children, expert guidance and resources around child-rearing as well as helping the transition of children to kindergarten and a host of other crucial supports."

Parents and children will join Public Health Agency and program staff at Harbourfront Community Centre to celebrate the program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will be entertained by Samba Kidz, a youth samba orchestra from one of the GUHD program's neighbourhoods and also enjoy family activities and a lunch.

"Each neighbourhood in Toronto has its own diverse make-up, different social and economic challenges and trends," Ali explained.

"Our service delivery comes from local agencies with close ties to each community. They know the needs and have strong relationships with the families. That keeps us flexible and doing the right things. Program offerings adapt to what helps each neighbourhood most."

For example, one partner agency, the 519 Community Centre located in the heart of Toronto's LGBTQ neighbourhood, offers Queer family support programs. "We need to support families in different ways that fit their actual challenges and circumstances," added Ali.

Three GUHD staff members – Ronnie Thompson of Dixon Hall and Gaby Motta and Kelly McClure of Harbourfront Community Centre will be honoured at Friday's event as founding staff for the program.

FST, which is celebrating its Centennial this year, is one of the city's leading social service organizations and has provided critical and pioneering work in counselling, advocacy and family support since 1914.

Details and schedule:
Harbourfront Community Centre   
27 Queen's Quay W. 11 a.m. –  2 p.m.
Presentation: 11:30 a.m.; Samba Kidz Performance: 1:30 p.m.

SOURCE: Family Service Toronto

For further information: Brian Porter, Director of Marketing and Communications, brianpo@familyservicetoronto.org, 416-595-9230 ext 225

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