Making friends in a new city can be tough. It can be even more difficult when raising a young family.
Yorkton Parents and Tots play group has provided a place for parents with newborn to preschool-aged children to meet once a week for almost three years.
Jennifer Haas started the group when the Zion Lutheran Church approached her with the idea. At the time she had a one year-old daughter.
“It is non-denominational. We are not preaching to anyone it is just that we use the basement of the church,” Haas said about the group.
The playgroup had a positive response from parents who had nowhere to go after the playland in the mall closed. The numbers have grown over the years, with almost 100 people squeezing into the basement for the big Halloween party.
During summer, a less busy time, they go to different parks for the Friday gathering. On August 10 the park of choice was the Yorkton Nursery School ‘Little Scholars Park’ which is right beside the Co-op. Not many parents know the park is open to the public, noted Haas.
The group attracts “a lot of people that are new to Yorkton,” said Haas. Two years ago Noelle Humphrey was one of those people. She met most of her friends through the group.
The group provides a social gathering for parents dealing with cabin fever.
“They were kind of stuck in the house because they didn’t know anybody. Then they would come to playgroup and that would be their out,” said Haas.
The children “get to make really good friendships,” she added.
The playgroup does crafts and story time to provide educational value. Theme days such as Christmas, Easter, ‘Pizza and PJ Day’ and even the Olympics add an extra bit of fun.
“The only thing difficult about playgroup is we have no funding. Pretty much everything comes out of donations or out of my own pocket so that’s where we get a lot of our items, our toys, our snack table and our juice,” said Haas.
Providing these items for free helps draw in more people who cannot afford it otherwise, said Haas.
“There is not much to do when you don’t have a lot of money in Yorkton so providing a group for young kids to socialize with parents, it’s good.”
“If you look at the pool or anything it comes with a high cost and a lot of people can’t even afford it,” added Humphrey.
Flooding in the church basement this year damaged the carpet, which needs to be replaced. Haus is either “looking for a more centralized space” when the group returns indoors for the fall or will attempt to re-carpet the basement and solve the flooding issue.
The funds to rent out a space elsewhere or for the re-carpeting can prove a challenge. Haas’ applications for program grants in the community have been unsuccessful so far.
The value in the program is worth the cost to Haas.
“I think it’s a really important part of our community. Programming (for ages 0 to 5) before I started playgroup was pretty much non-existent.”
The group is open, free of charge to any interested parents and tots. It runs every Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Jennifer Haas can be contacted at (306)-621-8869 for more information.