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CityKidz Big Dream Summit

After months of prayer, planning and a whole lot of preparation, we knew it was about time that we got together with the amazing people who make our kids smile and everything we do possible.

In the past, Volunteer Connect was our way of bringing together the vast community of CityKidz volunteers before the start of a new program season.  Volunteer Connect events had focused on orientation for new volunteers, reviewing policies, sharing stories and generally (re)connecting with our community.

But this year, we decided that we wanted to try something different. Something fresh. Something that honoured the heart of Volunteer Connect but went a step further to empower our volunteer community to go deeper and give their diverse talents a space to shine.

Imagine. Inspire. Ignite.

What emerged was the Big Dream Summit: a day designed for volunteers to imagine an ambitious future for CityKidz; a day to be inspired in the work that they do; and a day to ignite faith, hope and love in the community as we prepared to launch our spring program season.

Here’s what that looked like:

Derek and Brenda Introduce Fantastic Features at the Big Dream Summit

Derek and Brenda show us the crazy science that’s in store for our kids this spring.

David, a member of our volunteer team, welcomed everyone to the Big Dream Summit and KinderKidz coordinator Brenda and CityKidz fun host, Derek, introduced a sneak preview of the spring season’s upcoming video series: Fantastic Features.

David returned to the stage to explain the event’s lineup. Over the next two hours, volunteers were invited to choose and rotate between three ‘breakout sessions’. These breakout sessions were an opportunity for volunteers to communally explore the ways they could deepen their impact on our kids, families and community and move the entire CityKidz mission forward.

Breakout Sessions

Home Visit Roundtable

four people sharing wisdom

Ray, Cathy, Paul and Missy share their Home Visit wisdom

In Bay 2, Bus Teams Coordinator, Missy Visser, led a roundtable discussion about Home Visits alongside three seasoned captains, Paul, Cathy and Ray. Together, volunteers shared moments that have shaped their passion as well as practical ways to engage kids and families during a visit.


After CityKidz: CityYouth, Roadmaps to Dreams & Education Fund

Board room discussion

Trevor leads a session about life after CityKidz Saturday

Meanwhile, Brenda Visser gave a KinderKidz primer in the KinderKidz studio. And over in our boardroom, our favourite (and only) full-time volunteer, Trevor Thomson, led an information session about our youth programs alongside life-long CityKidz participant, Chelsea and current Volunteer Team intern, Kayla.


Bus Fun 101

Susan and Madison lead Bus Fun 101

In Bus Fun 101 it’s literally all about the journey

Back in the CityKidz Studio Theatre, Susan, long-time staff and volunteer, and Madison, a Jr. Leader, shared the importance of engaging with our kids on the bus. Together, they shared countless tips and tricks for creating a magical experience for our kids from their front door to ours.


Dance Moves

Youth practice their dance moves

Hands up if you know the moves

Around the corner in the Youth Studio were fun hosts, Derek, Eveliina and Saturday Squad member, Hunter, making a joyful ruckus teaching youth volunteers new choreography. The trio led a great dance tutorial session where everyone learned to stir up deep wells and all kinds of cool dance moves to help keep the energy turned up to a ten at every CityKidz Saturday program.


Prayer for the Kidz

David leads a group prayer

We lift up our hearts, we lift them up to the lord

Down the hall, things were substantially calmer in David’s peaceful prayer session. For nearly two hours, volunteers came together in prayer for upcoming program season.


CityKidz Dreaming

Todd shares his dreams at Big Dream Summit

Rev. Todd Bender, CityKidz founder, Executive Director and lifelong dreamer of big dreams

As always, our founder and executive director, Todd Bender, could be found sharing his big dreams for CityKidz’ future and inspiring his audience to go deeper in the work of bringing an end to child poverty.


Behaviour Management

Guest Speaker Sandra Chan leading workshop at Big Dream Summit

Bringing out the best, one child at a time

For the final breakout session, guest speaker Sandra Chan, a long-time social worker for Hamilton Children’s Aid Society gave an informative workshop focused on understanding the impact of trauma. She also offered a framework for managing misbehaviour to bring out the best in our kids and youth.


Panel Discussion

Athena, Amanda and Todd discuss CityKidz at the Big Dream Summit

CityKidz from three perspectives

Next, everyone came together back in the CityKidz Studio Theatre for a much-anticipated panel discussion featuring CityKidz Founder and Executive Director, Todd Bender, lifelong CityKidz program participant, Athena, as well as Amanda, mom to two CityKidz participants. Together, the panelists discussed their personal experiences with CityKidz, how it has impacted their lives and offered a unique perspective of our organization’s mission and programming.


volunteers enjoying pizza

all smiles for Earth to Table pizza

With everyone’s spirits high and brains digesting a rollercoaster of thoughtful, sometimes challenging but always inspiring conversations, a delicious lunch catered by Earth to Table Bread Bar was just the thing to finish off the day.

With everyone’s bellies, minds and hearts full, we felt safe calling our first Big Dream Summit a success.

Big Dreams and Big Thanks!

Thank you so much to everyone who had a hand in making our first ever Big Dream Summit a success! This includes all the marvellous volunteers who came out to learn, share and dream together!

If you feel inspired and would like more information about volunteering at CityKidz, click here.

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