My name is Dermot Pomeroy. I’m a father of 3 kids. Two boys 13 & 11 as well as a girl aged 7. My kids and I are quite actively involved in sports and outdoor activities which have been a huge part of our day to day lives. I’ve coached hockey for 9 years and baseball for 2.
We have had face painting, barbecues, arts and crafts, finger painting, soccer, potluck, pizza parties, and much more.
The last 14 months have totally turned our lives upside down and caused my children stress, anxiety, depression and messed with their emotions in so many ways.
We went from being at the hockey rink 6-7 days a week (multiple times daily), with my middle child’s team most assuredly on their way to winning their first championship for Oshawa Minor Generals, to an abrupt stop. Like most, we had no choice but to comply and we tried to adjust as best we could. We decided we would look forward to fishing and boating season. Before we knew it, the boat launches were closed. This was followed by baseball being cancelled. We made due as best we could, focusing on what we could do to continue keeping them busy with hikes in the woods and daily cook ups along the shores of Lake Ontario.
Fast forward to September, and I decided not to send them back to school where they would be subjected to social distancing, daily Covid screening and masking. I was especially worried about my young daughter’s mental health. My children were now doing online learning at home in three different rooms. Their days were spent staring at a computer screen all day long and their mental health started to suffer. My daughter has been doing Karate in the basement through Zoom and although she enjoys it, this is not what I want for her. She has recently started to play the piano with lessons and I have been teaching her to play guitar. We struggle to help her have some sense of normalcy and it is breaking our hearts. She has no friends to play with. At least my boys are close in age and have each other.
Out of desperation, I decided that I would organize some play dates at my neighbourhood park in hopes that I could get her outside more and find some kids for her to play with. I reached out to some friends of mine and we had about 10 of us at the park across from my house. The kids had a blast! I started thinking about it and decided that I would organize a massive play date at the park and invite people and their kids from all my social media platforms to come out and take back their normal. My main focus was for the kids to have fun but in the back of my mind I was hoping that parents would come out and start talking to each other from my neighbourhood and open up lines of communication. That’s exactly what happened. Parents from my neighbourhood that I had never met before joined us and I realized there were a lot of other kids suffering as well. I decided I would keep this going every week. We’ve changed it up a few times to different locations in our region and recently have started playing baseball games. We intend on keeping this going on with the hopes of expanding it to much more than just baseball games and play dates in the park. We have plans to organize a kids music festival with bouncy castles, dance party, a magician, animal balloons, and a plethora of kids activities. We are working out the details at the moment. People are reaching out to me asking if I can host something in their regions and I’ve been encouraging people to also start their own.
With encouragement and support from Take Action Canada (takeactioncanada.ca) we have decided to launch this website called “Game On …Let The Kids Play” (gameoncanada.org). The goal is to have a site where people can go and look to see what activities for kids are going on in their neighbourhoods all across Canada. We will be networking with countless groups to spread the site and encourage all individuals organizing kids events to send us their information so we can put it on our site.