Yvonne Epp used to see a lot more strollers on the streets. Previous to moving to Downtown for work, Epp, her husband and their two small children lived in downtown Ottawa, where they were accustomed to seeing other kids in the core daily. The transition has been an adjustment.
“When we first moved here, I’d see other strollers, and almost wish I had a business card that said ‘Downtown Mom: Do you want to be my friend?’” she says. Epp, who joined DECL in February because she wanted to contribute a parent’s perspective, was initially discouraged and pondered moving to a more family-friendly neighbourhood.
Instead, she decided to “be a part of the change” and started the Urban Kids Playgroup to connect downtown’s few families.
Heather Popowich, for one, is glad she did. “It’s so important for [kids] to play with other kids in a different environment,” says the mother of a toddler.
At the group the kids have abundant toys, snacks and space to explore. “They get so excited!” says Popowich, though she could say the same about the parents in attendance. The adults get to lounge in comfy couches with coffee, making rare connections with other parents, while the kids entertain one another.
Epp hopes the group reaches a point where the kids can go on mini field trips around the core, to the Epcor Tower or the AGA, and help establish a stronger sense of community.
“We need to pull [the core’s families] out of the woodwork,” says Epp, “and this group is like the bait.” (For more information visit Urban Kids’ Facebook page at facebook.com/ yegurbankids)
Urban Kids Playgroup: Jun 13, Jun 27, Jul 11, Aug 15, Aug 29: It’s where downtown children (0–5) play together and their caregivers meet. (10:30am, DECL Space, 10042 103 St.)