Families can find resources, services and fun at the Early Years Healthy Start Fair, Jan. 15 at the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre Neutral Zone on Franklyn Street. STOCK PHOTO

Travelling fair brings resources, information and fun to Nanaimo famlies

Early Years Healthy Start Fair happens Jan. 15

A travelling fair is bringing information and fun to families next week.

Nanaimo’s Early Years Healthy Start Fair, a one-stop shop of resources, services and activities for parents with children aged 0-6, is arriving downtown Monday, Jan. 15.

It’s the sixth event put on by the Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership and attracts up to 200 families.

Amber Bruner, children first early years community coordinator, said the partnership is trying to remove barriers for families and give them a value-added service so they don’t just go to a fair and get information.

Parents can make an appointment for an immunization, get a hearing or vision screening for kids and speak with between 45-50 different service providers, like Partners in Parenting, Island Health’s dental program, and City of Nanaimo parks and recreation. There’s also live music, face painting, stories, an ambulance and police car for kids to explore and giveaways like hockey sticks and two months worth of fruits and vegetables from Good Food Box.

It’s all free and Bruner said it’s a fun atmosphere.

“I find as a parent its really cool because you are not only feeling so supported and getting all these supports and resources and information and help being a parent but your child is also having fun,” she said.

Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership is made up of 80 people from Nanaimo organizations that deal with kids aged 0-6. It found parents didn’t know about resources or how to get services and built a virtual hub of information. It also looked at a physical location for services and resources, but realized, in speaking with parents, service providers and organizations, not everyone could be served from one place because of the way the city is laid out. What Nanaimo needed is something akin to a travelling road show, with fairs at different locations, at different times of the day and different days of the week that went to parents’ neighbourhoods, according to Bruner.

The next fair is Jan. 15 at the Tillicum Lelum Friendship Centre Neutral Zone at 421 Franklyn Street from 1-4 p.m. Another Early Years Healthy Start Fair happens March 8 at Country Club Centre from 4-7 p.m. Funding for the events comes from the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Coastal Community Credit Union, United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, Success by 6 and Children First.

For more information about the partnership or fair, visit www.nanaimoearlyyears.org.



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