The Kid Kit empowers families through play - United Way Alberta Capital Region

The Kid Kit empowers families through play

May 9, 2022


Zachary and his wife Eleana are newcomers to Canada*. Coming to a new country where they don’t know the language has been stressful and exhausting. At the end of the day, they barely have enough energy to play with their young daughter Hannah.

While accessing support from a local social services agency, a worker shows them The Kid Kit®. Provided by United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, The Kid Kit helps families learn more about child development through play.

“The Kid Kit creates opportunities for families to learn foundational skills that help them to face the more challenging moments in their lives,” explains Rebecca Jansen, United Way’s Associate, Children & Youth.

Playful parenting leads to stronger bonds, resiliency
The key to The Kid Kit’s success is in the guidance provided by the agency support staff to families. Many families who use The Kid Kit don’t speak English at home. By working one-on-one with families, staff bring the kits to life and make the information about child development more accessible.

When Hannah opens the kit, she’s delighted to find some crayons and a new book, and her parents look through a set of flashcards that their support worker translates. Together, they learn that child development isn’t just biological and is affected by positive caregiver-child relationships.

“Research shows that strong parent-child relationships, with a focus on play and playfulness, leads to positive childhood development,” Rebecca says.

Breaking the cycle of poverty through stronger parent-child bonds
While it may look like a simple care package, The Kid Kit is a powerful tool that helps families build stronger relationships while also guiding their child’s development. In turn, children are better prepared for the social aspects of starting school and can focus on academics. And we know that success in school can help kids stay in school until graduation, which helps to break the cycle of poverty.

As they learn more, Zachary and Eleana are inspired to get their daughter more involved in art. Having this kind of support during difficult times took a weight off their shoulders.

“It helps start conversations between my wife and me about what we notice about our daughter’s progress,” explains Zachary. “I now follow my child’s lead during play and spend more time one-on-one with her.”

*This story is a composite of experiences from families and agency staff who use The Kid Kit.

Indigenous stories added to kits
United Way regularly evaluates and adapts The Kid Kit® to meet the needs of families. For instance, 17 per cent of families who use the kit identify as Indigenous, Métis, or Inuit. And so, as of spring 2022, United Way is adding books by Indigenous authors to each age group for the Kid Kit.

“This is a small step toward acknowledging the significance of Indigenous Knowledge in child development,” explains Rebecca.

“It was also important for us to increase Indigenous representation — not only for Indigenous families to see themselves in these stories but for all families to learn more about Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”

Each book’s theme reflects Indigenous worldview, aligning Indigenous Knowledge with the developmental stages of each kit.

The list of Indigenous books being added to the Kid Kit:

Kit 1 (0-6 months): Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

Kit 2 (7-12 months): I Can See You by Rosemarie Avrana Meyok

Kit 3 (13-18 months): Black Bear, Red Fox: Colours in Cree by Julie Flett

Kit 4 (18 months-3 years): Carry Me, Mama by Monica Devine

Kit 5 (4-5 years): Caribou Song by Tomson Highway