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18 Aug, Thursday
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Montreal Families

Centre gives a green light to community requests

Community services like daycare and recreation programs can make a huge difference in a family’s quality of life. Whether a kid learns to play soccer or takes a Saturday morning dance class, local programs provide accessible and affordable chances to learn and socialize.

Montreal mom, Michele Beacom, has three children who have been involved in such programs at the Centre Greene in Westmount for about 10 years. Her kids have taken karate classes, attended an after-school program and gone to its summer camps.

Now, her 15-year-old son, Dylan, is a Counselor in Training (CIT) at the centre’s summer camp where his younger twin sisters, 13-year-olds Maya and Naomi, attend. All the kids have volunteered at the centre too, including helping out at various fundraisers by selling raffle tickets and serving food. “Centre Greene is the teenagers’ second home,” she says. “They love it there.”

Started in 1989, the centre has embraced a philosophy of helping local residents. “A lot of our programs are based on community demands,” says Wesley McCoy, the centre’s Developing Coordinator and Summer Camp Director.

For example, families wanted a place where their children could hang out on a Friday night. Hence, the creation of the TGIF program, where kids ages 5 to 12 can come to the centre every second Friday night for a meal and games. When people suggested more programming for the summer, the centre created a summer day camp.

And when parents complained about the lack of activities for preschoolers not enrolled in daycare, the centre responded by developing Tumbling Tots, a twice a week program in which preschoolers can play and romp in the centre’s gym and indoor playground. Anna Johansson, the centre’s Executive Director, says the program is very popular as it provides a safe, warm place where kids can play.

The centre also offers a special respite daycare three days a week. It’s called the Halte Garderie and it takes kids who need more support and stimulation than their families, for various reasons, are able to provide. Only 10 kids are accepted each day and parents must call 48 hours in advance to reserve a spot. In the past, the garderie has helped children whose parents have recently immigrated and are trying to settle into a new city as well as mothers who are struggling to raise families alone.

It has an After School Program for children ages 5 to 13 (or from kindergarten to Grade 6), which runs throughout the school year. Staff can help children with their school work and the kids have a chance to make new friends and play. Gym time is included as well as a snack.

Providing a safe environment

Whatever the program, Centre Greene offers families a pleasant atmosphere and a safe environment for their children. “We are very vigilant and very careful with the children,” emphasizes Johansson. For example, individuals are not allowed to wander around, and the staff are always aware of who is in the building.

The children also enjoy the centre’s space. The rooms are large and there are plenty of them: a gym for active games, a quieter sunroom for doing homework and even a place for playing various board games.

The centre also reaches out to other age groups, by offering adults programs in dance, martial arts and fitness as well as services for seniors. For example, the Senior’s Luncheon is held twice a month and offers a three-course home cooked meal in a friendly environment where seniors can connect with peers.

There’s also a support group for individuals who are providing ongoing care and assistance, without pay, to family members or friends with chronic physical, cognitive, or mental health conditions. It’s called Caregiver’s Tea and it meets once a month.

Underlying all these programs is the simple notion that the centre should respond to community requests, says Johansson. “If someone comes in the door and says we should do a computer course for seniors then we feel it’s our responsibility to pick up the ball and run with it.”

For a complete list of programs, go to www.centregreene.org or call (514) 931-6202. The centre is at 1090 Greene Ave., in Westmount.

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