For 40 years, Eastside Family Place (ESFP) has been a safe, vibrant and welcoming place for young children and their parents – a place where parents can come with all their stress and fatigue and get support and make connections.

“It’s a home away from home for parents,” says Gaye Ferguson, a family support worker at ESFP. “It can be very isolating being a parent at home with young children. This place is about building community.”

Every year Eastside Family Place helps hundreds of families – with a daily drop-in program and access to healthy food and snacks, as well as a parenting program called “Nobody’s Perfect”. Some of these parents are single moms, others might be suffering from post-partum depression or going through a painful marital breakup. For them, this caring centre can literally be a lifeline.

Recognizing that Eastside Family Place is a critically important hub for inner city families, CLICK has provided funding support over the years – most recently for the Little Sprouts and Kids in the Kitchen programs.

Led by a local chef who acts as a facilitator, parents and little ones plant, tend and water a garden located in the Britannia Community School complex. In the kitchen, enthusiastic young chefs help to make yummy snacks like kale chips, zucchini cupcakes, chocolate mud cakes and applesauce.

Gaye notes that the gardening in particular connects inner city children with nature. “These children often live in small apartments or basement suites and don’t have a backyard to play and garden in. So this program gives kids much-needed time to explore and play outdoors.”

It may seem like a simple thing but for these children sitting on a blanket and having a picnic – eating the carrots and berries that they watered and picked with their tiny hands – is yet another wonderful gift provided by Eastside Family Place.