Our Family Engagement Team (FET) is comprised of caregivers to Grandview Kids clients and former clients (grads), who use their lived experience and specialized training to support other parents, caregivers and clients in their journey. Caring for a child or youth with physical, communication or developmental needs can leave some caregivers feeling isolated and alone. By offering peer support, mentoring and education from individuals who have first-hand, personal experiences, we are cultivating an authentic, non-judgmental environment where families feel empowered, understood and supported.
Grandview Kids is a leader in Family Engagement, building the premier program within Ontario’s Children’s Treatment Centre (CTC) sector, which has garnered national and international recognition. We are one of few programs of this kind in Canada.
The Family Engagement Team is integrated into the multidisciplinary care approach at Grandview Kids, supporting our Complex Care Program, Ontario Autism Program and Adolescent Transition Program. We also offer Family Engagement services through Online Parent Support (OPS) pages, help with filling out paperwork and funding applications, caregiver education sessions and coffee chats, and our lending ‘Resource Library.’
In addition, our Family Leader Program – comprised of all those who serve as Grandview Kids ambassadors, advisors and advocates – is overseen by our Family Engagement Team; this includes our Family Advisory Council (YAC), Youth Advisory Council (YAC), Working Groups and Ambassador Program.
One key thing the Family Engagement Team does is host events and networking activities throughout the year to support Grandview Kids clients and caregivers. Popular ones include accessible Trick-or-Treating, Sensory Santa, Resource Fair, Park Playdates and Youth Meetups. These events provide amazing opportunities for parents, siblings, clients, family members and others to meet people who share similar experiences. Connections are made that inspire fun, friendship, learning and advocacy. Here are highlights from a few hosted this summer!
Adolescent Transition Launch Event
We officially launched our Adolescent Transition Program on August 3! Thanks to TD Bank Group for its support to get this program up and running.
For a long time, Grandview Kids has witnessed the gap in support and resources that occurs when our clients transition from our care (as kids and adolescents) to adult care. Teens and their caregivers consistently tell us it feels like “falling off a cliff” when their paediatric support system is no longer accessible. Grandview Kids knew we had to bridge this gap, and help prepare families for the uncertainties that lay ahead.
Our new Adolescent Transition Program will provide the much-needed support to families that are aging out of services at Grandview Kids. It was co-designed by Parent Advocates, Youth Advocates, as well as members of Grandview Kids’ Family Engagement, Clinical and Client Services, and Medical teams. This integrated approach puts the family voice at the centre of program development.
Our August 3 launch event included remarks from Grandview Kids CEO Tom McHugh, reflecting on his own family’s experience moving from paediatric to adult developmental services. Attendees participated in fun games like axe throwing (the safe kind!), while others sat down to get a custom, Grandview Kids tattoo (the fake kind!). Our new Transition Checklist was revealed. But all around, we heard from many older clients and their caregivers… the sense of relief that we were re-focusing on supports for adolescents during this critical, and sometimes overwhelming, period of their lives.
We look forward to hosting more Adolescent Transition education sessions, youth hang-outs and workshops in the fall. Stay tuned!
Complex Care Program Networking Event
We are pleased to report on the successful launch of our first ever Complex Care Family Engagement event, held on July 27. This event resonated deeply with caregivers, parents, siblings and grandparents, providing an avenue for meaningful interactions and shared experiences.
The occasion comprised a range of engaging activities, each contributing to the overall sense of enjoyment and relaxation. Family Engagement Program Coordinator Natasha’s artistic touch adorned faces with beautiful and creative face painting. The generosity of Station Gallery in Whitby – who provided the art supplies, and the creativity of Kerry and Jessica – who were extra patient and caring with the children, brought forth a world of amazing artwork by some children. Volunteers, Akash and Shayaan, arranged recreational games, creating an atmosphere of joy and fun for the children. Siblings were seen interacting and making new friendships.
The heart of the event was the informative session on self-care, facilitated by Peer Navigator Jacki. Caregivers absorbed valuable insight in recognizing and acknowledging the importance of attending to their own well-being amid their demanding responsibilities with their children who have complex medical needs.
A few parents expressed the necessity of such gatherings on a regular basis. These moments of connection provided the platform to share stories, support one another, and discover a network of empathy and understanding.
Adding an enchanting touch, Tulip the mini therapy horse arrived, bringing an abundance of smiles, hugs and warmth. Peer Navigator Sujay, who has exceptional photography skills, took awesome photos of everyone having fun with silly props. The pictures captured how much fun families had together.
As we reflect on the event’s impact, family engagement is inspired to continue holding events to promote a supportive network for families facing unique challenges. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed, attended and lent their support, making this event an unforgettable success.
The FET brought clients, caregivers, siblings and families together every Tuesday this summer, hosting playdates at Grandview Kids’ playground. Despite some rainy weather, each week’s playdate included a themed activity. From creating dinosaur fossils, to tie-dying t-shirts, and even a visit from Tulip the Therapy Horse, FET’s Park Playdates offered something special for all kids and their families.
Our Park Playdates not only provide an opportunity for kids to interact and play together, but also foster a sense of community amongst Grandview Kids parents and caregivers. It’s a place for connection and fun. Throughout the summer, the Park Playdates reached record numbers of attendance, with joyful cheer and excitement filling the atmosphere week-after-week. The playdates organized by FET are a testament to the power of play and peer connections.
To get connected to the Grandview Kids Family Engagement Team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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