In Dia’s family, the kids did the talking. Dia and his older sister in particular. They were 11 and 13 respectively. Dia and his family were new to Canada when they were added to the CityKidz roster just before Christmas.
Though happy to be in Canada, Dia was struggling. He struggled with all the adjustments that come with a continental uprooting. School, friends, language – all these things changed abruptly and Dia had no voice in the matter.
Although his English was already quite good, Dia struggled to be his parents’ interpreter. It was challenging: translating not just words but also customs and experiences to help manage his family’s transition to Canadian life. During the week, he barely get to be a kid as his parents managed jobs and raising five children in a foreign land.
Often, these burdens accompanied Dia when he got on the bus with three of his siblings for the CityKidz Saturday program.
Love, Patience and Attention
Like most kids, Dia desperately wanted attention. He wanted someone to talk to, someone who would listen and console and joke and pay attention to just him, if just for a moment. Like many kids, Dia had learned that one way to get this attention was to act out. The choice between negative attention and no attention was simple and so Dia could get disruptive.
One Saturday was particularly difficult for Dia. Sitting still and quiet and unnoticed was too much to bear. Seeing Dia struggle, CityKidz executive director, Todd sat beside Dia and showered him with the positive attention the child needed to be his best self. The two chatted quietly throughout the session and Todd gave one loving reminder after another to redirect Dia when his behaviour became disruptive.
As Dia was being dropped off after this session he approached Todd. “Thank you for being there for me when I was a bad boy today,” he said.
But Todd never saw Dia as a bad boy. He knew that Dia just needed someone in that moment to demonstrate that he mattered and that he was supported.
This sort of awareness from an 11-year-old was striking. He recognized that Todd had showed love where others had shown impatience or frustration. He saw a positive way forward, that he had options and choices, and that he would be loved and supported even when he made mistakes.
Celebrating Every Child
CityKidz believes that every child is special. Our incredible team of volunteers and staff seek every opportunity to demonstrate their love for all the kids and youth in our programs – especially when they struggle. They strive to celebrate each child for their individual strengths and achievements and show them that they matter: that they impact the world around them, that their hopes and dreams are important and achievable, and that they are loved unconditionally.
*Children’s names have been changed for privacy purposes.