Preserving our village

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I am from a small city.

People to have moved to Guelph from Toronto will describe Guelph as a small city.  When I moved here, I was overwhelmed.  This city has more than one Starbucks! If you want to take your kids for a playdate swimming, you have to decide which pool you’d like to visit! Guelph has SEVEN library branches.  You know how many there are in my hometown? One.  There used to be two but whoa, hold back.  Don’t get crazy.  Better shut one of those down.

I love Guelph.  I love the trails.  I love the parks.  We’ve already established that I love the libraries and the accessibility of a Chai Tea Latte.  But what I love best about Guelph is the feel.  Guelph feels like a small town.  I know my neighbours, and I still smile and say hello to the ones I don’t.  When I take my kids to the playground, the adults always make small talk .  If my child is having trouble on the climber and there is another adult closer, he or she will help my child without a second thought.  If we are at a playgroup and I am changing my baby’s diaper when my older child decides she wants to paint, another parent has set her up with a smock and paper before I even get back.  The idea of “it takes a village to raise a child” has never been more true than it is in Guelph.

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This small town feel is what makes the recent attempted abductions even more terrifying.

How can this be happening in my wonderful, friendly Guelph? This isn’t Toronto, or Chicago, or another large city where neighbours don’t make eye contact and doors are quickly locked as soon as they are shut.  This is Guelph, where I have come home to a plowed driveway and I’ve had friends drop off meals just because.  This is scary, this is real, and this is happening right here in our home.

 

I am having a really hard time talking to my daughter about this.  My three year old is very outgoing and will start a conversation with anyone, anywhere.  We try to warn her about “stranger danger” but how can we do this without making her scared of every person she meets? I am sure I am not the only parent who is staying awake at night worrying about the children of this city.

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We all need to warn our children about the potential dangers out there, but we also need to realize that our “village” has never been more important.  We are less than two months into the school year and there have already been FIVE attempted abductions reported.  We absolutely need to make sure that our children know to stay away from strangers and to never go with a stranger, but we also need to make sure that we are protecting our village.

Please, protect our village.  If you are driving by a school on your way to or from work, please keep watch.  If you see anything suspicious, please report it.  If you walk your children home from school, encourage other children to walk in your group.  Tell your friends and neighbours about these attempted abductions.  Parents need to be aware of what is happening in our town.

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Talk to your kids’ teachers about what the school is doing to protect our children.  Some schoolyards are fenced off, but some are wide open.  Is your school increasing supervision at recess?

Halloween is coming and I am terrified.  Our city will be filled with unsupervised children going door to door and asking for candy.  Please take your kids out trick or treating even if it isn’t “cool” for you to be with them.

To all the parents of Guelph, we are a village.  We need each other.  Please, let’s keep each other safe.

Brianne Collecchio
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Brianne Collecchio is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and mom of two girls. She runs Busy Bees Childcare, Busy Bees Creations, and is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne.