Investing in Children Blog

Who doesn't love to hear stories about kindness and generosity?

Isn't it great to know that there are those out there who want to help children and families in their communities? 

That there are groups, business, and organizations that make a deliberate choice to give back to their communities by supporting local charities?

Here at Investing in Children, we are extremely lucky and thankful to have amazing partners who support us on a continual basis. Recently, we have been pleasantly surprised to be selected as a charity of choice by other people and organizations who became aware of Investing in Children when researching programs that help children and families in this community. And we were thrilled!

Our first instance, was when Nando's opened a new restaurant in Masonville Place in December and chose Investing in Children as its charity of choice. Krista McLay, Manger, Brand & Communications Strategy reached out to us to offer her company's support. Krista, from her office in Mississauga, found Investing in Children's website and saw the work we did and the programs we offered. She must have been impressed with what she saw because she then got in touch with us.
You see, Nando's always picks a charity to support at their opening. They use the opening of a new restaurant not only to showcase their new digs and their outstanding food but to help the community in which they are opening their new restaurants. “At Nando’s we take great pride in giving opportunity in every way we can. It was important to us to find a great organization in the London area for our opening and Investing in Children was just that. We are passionate about making a difference and this was a perfect opportunity," said Nick Siannas, Nando's Patrao (General Manager) for London.
It was amazing to find out at the opening, that Nando's also does amazing work aboard. Each restaurant is uniquely designed and features beautiful works of art. All the art pieces in each restaurant are original works purchased from villagers in South Africa. The money used to purchase the art goes a long ways to help impoverished families. 
We are truly thankful to Nandos for choosing Investing in Children.

Again, we were delightfully surprised when another group, LSTAR chose to support Investing in Children's programs. Jane Graydon, Sale Representative with Royal LePage Triland Realty, recognized the value of Investing in Children has on the community. She put forward Investing in Children's name to LSTAR to do a presentation. Investing in Children was then selected as a charity of choice. We are extremely thankful for their generous donation that will be used towards our nutrition programs.


Yet another out-of-the-blue support has been offered to Investing in Children. Michelle Forshaw, executive manager with Tupperware Canada, contacted us to let us know that they would like to support Investing in Children on Friday, February 24th. Michelle and a group of about 10-13 other vendors are hosting a shopping night at Trinity United Church, 76 Doulton Street, London (which is open to the public). The vendors each donate two items to be auctioned off. The money raised from the auction sale is donated to a charity. Investing in Children is charity they selected for this event. Michelle said she was happy to  do "anything to help children!"

Investing in Children is so thankful for events and donations such as these that support organizations like ours. It is great to know that people recognize the value of smaller charities and can see how they are helping children and families right in their communities. 

The impact of events like theses on smaller charities has a very significant impact. Quite often smaller charities are competing with larger charities that have designated advertising budgets. Whereas small charities rely on no-cost promotion such as facebook, twitter and word of mouth from those that have directly benefited from the programs offered. It does make it more challenging to get the word out about all of the programs that we offer that benefit kids, so donations and support like this are VERY much appreciated. 

Again, thank you to not only these groups but also to the support of our ongoing partners and organizations that help support Investing in Children. Thank you for helping us help children!

2016 Kids Power Conference Informed and Inspired Participants!

A lot of fun and learning was had by the more than 60 grade six and seven students that attended the Kids Power Conference held on Thursday, November 10th at the Central Branch of the London Public Library.

The leadership conference gave kids, identified by their school as potential leaders, a chance to discover ways they can be a leader and foster change in their communities and schools.

The kids attended various workshops throughout the day including ones on food choices, racism, tai chi, and the next steps when developing a business. They also enjoyed a scavenger hunt and button making session put on by our partner the London Public Library. 

This year's theme BElieve in YOUrself was also reiterated by the keynote speaker Sean Hakim. He used his background in acting and music to captivate and engage the kids while delivering his positive and inspiring messages.

We want to thank our workshop presenters for devoting their time to help inform and inspire the next generation of leaders. We also want to thank our partner the London Public Libray and the support of the Optimist Club of Middlesex-London. We also had a couple of amazing volunteers that gave up their day to come and help the kids. We appreciated all who helped out!

Overall, it was an amazing day and gave kids ideas to start projects in their own schools and communities such as anti-bullying groups, hobbies and sports clubs, straight-gay alliances, anti-racism clubs, art club, chess club and one student who wants to wants to start a club that if you don't have anyone to play with you can play with others in the club. It was great to see the kids realize that they could make a difference by believing in themselves and taking on a leadership role in their schools and communities.

Here is what some of the kids had to say!

"I think the workshops were a good variety. I wouldn't change anything!" - Nathan, Kids Power Conference participant

"What I liked best about the Kids Power Conference was going to the different stations and learning new things." - Lily, Kids Power Conference participant

"Everything was awesome! I liked everything!" - Chris, Kids Power Conference participant

Lots of fun was had at TVDSB Special Olympics 2016

On June 13th, 14th and 17th, over 900 elementary and secondary school athletes with developmental disabilities competed at the TVDSB Special Olympics at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

Each day began with the London Police Pipes and Drums leading the students onto the field for opening ceremonies, and on the 13th and 14th the students were welcomed by Special Olympian and motivational speaker Robert Pio Hajjar from Ideal Way.

The athletes participated in a variety of events, such as wheelchair races, sprints, relays, softball throw, long jump, shot-put, and some special activities like He Shoots, She Scores, Fish Pond, and Frisbee Golf. Peer coaches, volunteers and parents were there to support their athletes and cheer them on.

A BIG thank you as well to all of the volunteers, sponsors and community partners who came together to make this year’s TVDSB Special Olympics such a success!

It was a high spirited three days, and Investing in Children is thankful for the opportunity to be a partner in this event for over 10 years. Each year we invite  our staff and board members to come out and witness the events. It is an inspiring event to be at and witness the joy in the kids’ faces.

We were so pleased to receive a blog post from a mother of one of the special Olympic athletes. We invite you to read her blog as she reflects on the positive impact the day had on her and her son.


 For the love of the game

originally posted on
Life, Meaning and how do we find it?
Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending the Special Olympics to watch my son compete in the elementary school events.  This was my third year and it was, once again, the highlight of school field trips for me.  Each year they begin with a processional.  All the kids march in with their school banner held out in front of them.  Bagpipes pipe them in as the Police band plays.  A professional announcer calls out the names of all the schools.  A professional motivational speaker opens up the games.  Retired teachers, staff from several businesses and lots of community volunteers are walking around organizing and encouraging and smiling.  

And as I watch, my wonderful, beautiful, autistic boy jumps and dances and sings and waves his hat in the air, proudly wearing his school colours and smiling with an openness and joy that brings tears to my eyes and brings this mama’s heart near to bursting with love and gratitude.  Here, in this sacred space, these kids—some, like mine, with autism, some in wheelchairs, some with Down syndrome, some with complex challenges not easily defined—here they are all the same.  Here, they all belong.  Here, they are all athletes.  That is how they are referred to by the announcers.  That is how they are treated by all the event organizers.  That is how they see themselves as they run and jump and throw.  

Each event is set up exactly as it would be for any sports team or competition.  Real equipment.  Real timers.  Real long jump pits and real race tracks.  Real scores are kept and tallied and compared with real winners and losers.  And through it all, these wonderful kids are treated with a respect and a seriousness that is often missing from other aspects of their lives.  Here, they get to be ‘just like’ the other kids.  For a few hours they get to experience what their ‘normal’ peers take for granted:  the ability to compete, the chance to win, and the chance to lose; to experience the anticipation of waiting for race results and final scores.  They mount the podium to receive ribbons, or they practice good sportsmanship as they cheer on their friends and classmates in spite of their own disappointments.  There are no consolation prizes or participation ribbons.

For a few brief hours yesterday I got to experience being the typical parent at a typical track and field event.  Except that in many ways it was not typical.  Most track events don’t have wheelchair races.  I imagine that relay races don’t require a peer coach.  When I was in track and field long jumpers couldn’t hold their teacher’s hand as the ran down the course.  There were so many things, large and small, that reminded me that this was not a typical experience.  But it was nonetheless a better one.  Because these kids were not competing with each other.  Oh, they were quite serious about their ribbons and prizes.  But competition was not the spirit of the day.  Inclusion was.  Respect was.  The opportunity for everyone to participate was at the centre of everything.  

I watched my son participate in a relay with a boy who had significant physical challenges, costing them a first place ribbon.  And then I watched him laugh for joy when he was presented with the second place prize.  We talked on the way home not about how they lost first place, but about how great it was for that boy to be on a team that placed second…probably a first for him.  

Throughout the day I smiled and laughed and winked conspiratorially with other parents who were experiencing the same happiness as me.  Walking through the gates of the stadium we had all dropped the weight of being ‘special needs’ parents and became simply ‘parents’ cheering on our athletes.  For a few hours, we were free from stares and comments, misunderstandings and pity.  For a few hours we were surrounded by people who saw our children not as burdens or exceptions but as athletes yearning to play in the games.  For a few hours, we knew the joy of celebrating our special kids for the things that make them truly special…their humour, their perseverance, their sportsmanship, their kindness, their willingness to keep on trying.  

There is an old sports expression:  For the love of the game.  That’s what I saw at Special Olympics.  I saw students coming together from different backgrounds, with different needs and a variety of challenges, and playing for the love of the game.  The freedom they found in that…the freedom to enjoy participating over winning, the freedom to celebrate an opponent’s victory as much as your own, the freedom to include everyone and exclude no one, regardless of ability…that freedom is something every athlete should get to experience.  But I fear that in the fierce competitiveness and pressure of sports today, playing for the love of the game is often missed, often lost.  

And so as I left the stadium yesterday, picking up once again the mantle of ‘special’ mama, I felt sorry for those ‘normal’ kids, competing in ‘normal’ games because I knew that no matter how many games they won or trophies that they accumulated, they would never know the pure joy of playing just for the love of the game that our kids experienced that day.  And I said a special prayer of gratitude for the many and unexpected blessings that God has rained down on me, chief among them my beautiful boy and his amazing joie-de-vivre! 

12th Annual Kids First Day was a success!

We couldn't have asked for better weather! A beautiful blue sky and an ideal temperature of 23 degrees created the perfect backdrop for the 12th Annual Kids First Day held on June 10, 2016.

Thanks to our sponsor Kiwanis Club of Forest City-London and our more than 50 partners, children and their families were able to enjoy loads of free or low-cost activities, events and places to visit throughout London and surrounding area.

Seeing as it was a PA day for both Thames Valley District School Board and London Catholic District School Board, Kids First Day gave thousands of children a great way to spend the day off  of school with all fun activities and it also gave parents a way to keep the little ones occupied. 

There was such a myriad of activities for children to choose from that no matter what a children’s interests are there was sure to be an activity they would love to try!

There were various arts and crafts for kids to express their creative side. Science experiments and other STEM activities for the avid learner were also available. For those who like to be active Aikido class, open gyms, swimming, mini-golf, scavenger hunts and indoor and outdoor playgrounds could be visited. There was also a magic show full of not only tricks but some comedy as well. On top of that, many local attractions and museums also agreed to participate and offered great places to visit.

Children also  had fun taking their passport around to the different venues to gain signatures for a chance to win prizes that were generously donated.

Kids First Day 916.JPG

Overall, a great day was had by both children and the partners!

We want to send a big thank you out to the Kiwanis Club of Forest City-London for sponsoring Kids First Day and to all of the wonderful businesses and organizations who opened their doors to children and their families with free or low-cost events or donated a prize: 

  • Adventures on Wonderland
  • Aikido Network
  • ArtVenture Art Studio
  • Boys and Girls Club of London
  • Carling Heights Optimist  Community Centre
  • Chapters South
  • Childreach
  • Covent Garden Market & London Community Resource Centre
  • Early Brainstorm Inc 
  • East Park Golf Gardens
  • Eldon House
  • Families First CAPC
  • Family Centre Carling Thames & LUSO Community Services
  • Fanshawe Pioneer Village
  • Girl Guides of Canada
  • Home Depot - East London Location
  • Indigo North
  • La ribambelle 
  • London Children’s Museum
  • London Public Library Branch
  • Mad Science of London
  • Mastermind Toys London North
  • Mastermind Toys London South
  • Michaels, South London Location
  • Museum London
  • Museum of Ontario Archaeology
  • Ontario Early Years - London Fanshawe
  • Palasad North
  • Rainbow Cinema
  • Scholar’s Choice North London
  • Scouts Canada
  • Ska-Nah-Doht Village & Museum
  • South London Community Pool
  • Storybook Gardens
  • The Berkshire Club - Sifton Properties
  • The Grand Theatre
  • Westmount Family Centre
  • Whitehills Childcare Centre
  •  YMCA StoneyCreek

If you are interested in hosting an activity for Kids First Day 2017, please email us at sfinch@investinginchildren.on.ca. We would love to add you to the list!

Kids Power Conference 2015: Recap

On Thursday, November 12th, in partnership with the London Public Library, 80 students attended our Kids Power Conference. This event brings together students identified as leaders by their teachers and peers for a day of leadership-themed workshops and presentations. Students develop their leadership skills and are hopefully inspired to start positive initiatives within their schools and communities. 

Seven organizations and businesses offered workshops on topics ranging from building racial and cultural understanding, to making use of local resources, and to the connection between a healthy body and a sharp mind. Read more about our talented presenters here

"I like the powerfulness of the presentations"
-Student at the Kids Power Conference


Our keynote presenter Joel Hilchey's motivational show was definitely a highlight of the day. In Take the Risk, Joel talked about how we learn and grow when we take risk. When we feel comfortable for too long, things get boring. When things are too risky, we panic and shut down. The key is to find the right amount of risk, take a chance and make a difference. 

"I liked how [Joel Hilchey] was able to teach and entertain at the same time." 
-Student at the Kids Power Conference

After an inspiring day, students were ready to bring their ideas back to their communities. Starting after school programs, supporting international Free the Children efforts, leading unique fundraising campaigns and hosting exercise clubs were just some of the wonderful initiatives discussed.

"I liked how happy everyone was and how awesome it was." 
-Student at the Kids Power Conference

If you are a business or organization interested in participating in our 2016 conference, please contact Crystal at csakhuja@investinginchildren.on.ca or at (519) 433-8996 ext. 225.