In response to the challenging times that we are experiencing together regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to give props to some stellar local businesses who are stepping up to serve our great community.

Featured this Week:

EarlyON Child & Family Centres, Muskoka
Facebook Page: EarlyON Muskoka

EarlyON Child and Family Centres throughout Muskoka are directly operated by the District of Muskoka to serve families and caregivers with children under the age of six years. They offer a variety of programs across the District, such as: Baby Talk, Parent Chats, free drop-in programs, networking and support for families. Through EarlyON, families receive support that helps them navigate the journey of childhood, build on their own strengths, make connections and develop relationships so that everyone can learn and grow together. They currently serve over 700 families throughout Muskoka and connect  with many other children service agencies across the District to ensure families are fully supported.

EarlyON is funded by the Ministry of Education and on March 13, 2020 they were told to close all drop-in centres due to Covid-19. Just days later, EarlyON began offering virtual programs; a variety of which have evolved and grown over the past nine months. Despite the need to close the drop-in centres they knew staying connected was critical for families. They began Wellness Calls to check-in with everyone and ensure they understood the supports that were available – from the food banks to how to apply for CERB. EarlyON then began Zoom programs,  in particular, Baby Talk (for families with little ones from 0 – 18 months) so new moms could connect and form a virtual community. They also invited numerous guest speakers to address needs within the community. EarlyON launched a Parent Chat Zoom, providing a space for parents to share not only concerns but also a giggle. Through the summer they began doing Pop-ups in public spaces to inform families of our services and hand-out activity bags. It was a great way to have in-person connection that was physically safe. The EarlyON team has been innovative throughout the pandemic, always striving to find creative ways to support families.

EarlyON’s plan  is to continue to provide virtual programs and Wellness calls, as not all families will be comfortable returning to in-person programs. Come December, they hope to begin outdoor in-person programs in each of the six municipalities across Muskoka. These will emphasize the importance to get outdoors for everyone’s mental health as well as model how simple and impactful outdoor play can be on a child’s development. EarlyON is committed to adhering to the health and safety guidelines provided by the local health department.

We think it is amazing what EarlyON has done not only for children in our community, but for parents and entire families. That they were so quick to respond to the closure of their drop-in centres with virtual programming is an incredible testament to their teams’ dedication and passion to serving families in our great community. We want to acknowledge all of their hard work and thank them for everything that they do. Keep up the great work!!

Visit the EarlyON Muskoka Website for more information and be sure to follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

If you know a local business who deserves a shout out, send us a direct message with a photo and why they should be featured.

#StayComfy #StayCozy #MuskokaBearWear