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A childminder reads a book to two kids.

A Rady Kids' Club childminder reads to program participants.

Children have ‘blast’ at Rady Kids’ Club while student parents study

November 8, 2023 — 

Finding quiet time for uninterrupted studying can be difficult for many university students, but when you’re also a parent, it can be even more challenging.

That’s why the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Family Centre is offering the Rady Kids’ Club.

The free service for Rady Faculty students allows them to drop off their kids at the Joe Doupe Recreation Centre gym one scheduled Saturday every month. The program, which runs from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., is for children aged four to 12 (kids must be fully independent in the bathroom.)

A child uses scissors while a childminder looks on.

Activities offered include crafts.

The Rady Faculty Office of Equity, Access and Participation – which oversees the Family Centre – prioritizes the removal of barriers students face, and the Rady Kids’ Club serves to help accomplish this goal for student parents, said Melissa Melo, coordinator of the Family Centre.

“Being a parent myself, I know it’s hard to think when the kids are constantly asking you questions,” Melo said. “You have no time alone, never mind trying to study and read a book and absorb information with all those interruptions. So, the Family Centre is thrilled to be able to offer the Rady Kids’ Club to student parents so they can have distraction-free study time while their kids are having fun.”

Several activity stations are set up in the gym for the kids to choose from, which range from crafts and Lego to soccer and an obstacle course. Healthy snacks are also included.

Two Rady Kids’ Club sessions have been held over the past couple of months and it’s already a hit with the kids and their parents.

One child smiles with his arms stretched out. Another child drinks from a juice box.

Healthy snacks are included in the program.

“They love it,” said Jacki Neufeld, a nurse practitioner student in the College of Nursing with six-year-old twins. “As soon as the first session was over, they said ‘We want to come back for all of them,’ so it was great. The kids had a blast and I got to study.”

Gem Newman, a fourth-year medical student at the Max Rady College of Medicine with two kids, aged seven and 10, said it’s been great to have a place to bring them where they can be watched, and he can study.

“It can be really challenging to be a student and a parent,” Newman said. “Navigating childcare and studying is very challenging, so it’s really nice to have a program like this that can help take a load off sometimes.”

Newman’s 10-year-old daughter, Keira, said she had lots of fun at the first Rady Kids’ Club and wanted to return.

“They have all sorts of crafts and I love crafting,” Keira said. 

A Rady Kids' Club childminder points to a Lego instruction booklet as a child looks on. Lego is spread out on a table in front of them.

The Family Centre has hired seven UM students to act as childminders.

The Family Centre has hired seven UM students, who’ve undergone criminal record and child abuse registry checks, to act as childminders.

Sean Ticsay, a doctor of pharmacy student at the College of Pharmacy, wanted to become a childminder because he loves working with kids and felt it was important to help support students who have children.

“I thought this is such a great program that gives parents a couple of hours on the weekend to come here and study and know that their kids are safe and having fun,” Ticsay said. “The programs we have – from arts and crafts to physical activities – are diverse and the kids love it.”

The Rady Kids Club will run once per month for 10 months, but if it’s popular, it could change to biweekly, Melo said.

“I’d love for more student parents to come try out the program,” Melo said. “We have the capacity to take on more children.”

Register here for the next session on Nov. 18. Then the following session will be Dec. 2. Visit the Family Centre’s website for more info about the many programs it offers.

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