When I first moved to North Vancouver three and a half years ago with my husband and daughter (at the time, she was just two), I admit I felt a bit like a fish out of water. Coming from Toronto, which couldn’t be more different from North Van, the culture shock was pretty intense. Suddenly, I was in the middle of a brand new world, without knowing anyone. Don’t get me wrong - this is my home, and I feel like I’ve always been meant to live here - the trails, the water, the mountains, the slower, gentler pace was exactly what I needed in my life. But making such a huge lifestyle change had its moments of difficulty, especially considering that I suffer from social anxiety.
When we embraced the community centres in our city, things began to change for the better. Participating in programs offered by Harry Jerome (the closest community centre to our home) shed a brand new light on North Van living for us. We met like-minded people, were able to enjoy a wide array of activities, and connect on a deeper level with our community, making us feel like we ourselves were an integral part of that community.
With this in mind, here are four reasons community centres are important to families:
- Community centres strengthen family bonds
When you take part in a family activity at your community centre, it brings a sense of accomplishment and joy, and that’s important because family time brings a stronger sense of connection within the family. Sometimes families can get so busy and caught up with household tasks that there’s no free time left to just BE a family. When families participate in a family activity, it’s healthy for everyone involved. As an example. I recently had the opportunity to photograph a family pottery class at Parkgate Community Centre, and the smiles and laughter on the faces of all participants illustrated pure, uninhibited joy. That’s a powerful thing, and community centres offer these kinds of experiences at an affordable (and sometimes free) cost.
- Community Centres offer valuable community info
Community Centres are excellent resources for providing families with easy access to events, programs, courses, and general information about the community. North Vancouver Recreation & Culture (NVRC) has guides, brochures, and online newsletters to keep families in the know. I can’t even count the number of events and programs my family and I wouldn’t have known about if not for NVRC. I think it’s important to stay connected to what’s happening in your community, and community centres are an excellent option for keeping informed.
- Community Centres connect you with other families
Through my daughter’s dance classes and family events such as the Easter Bunny Brunch, my family has connected with other families and developed rich friendships as a result. When you take your family to a place where other families are there for the same activity, there’s no need for an ice-breaker. We have met so many great families through NVRC.
- Community Centres can help you beat the blues!
During the long winter months, everyone in my family suffered from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) to some degree, but we did find that checking in with the happenings at the community centre and forcing ourselves to get out and take part, even if it was only once a month, really helped us feel better. NVRC offers lots of great indoor programs and activities - and we all know that exercise is good for the whole family! NVRC offers loads of physical activities and gym memberships at very affordable prices.
I can’t express how valuable it has been for my family to get involved with our local Community Centres. North Vancouver is FULL of them. NVRC works hard to ensure that we have a diverse range of programs, activities, and events.
What do you and your family love to do at your local community centre? I hope you take advantage of all the wonderful things that community centres offer this Spring!