Hershey Centre, Mississauga – As the Raptors 905 players were preparing for their game against Wisconsin, the families of Kaza Kajami-Keane and Aaron Best were sharing their parenting stories with families from across the GTA. Parent Involvement Matters is an event organized by Raptors 905 and Let’s Get Together!, a grassroot non-profit, with the goal of bringing together a community of parents inspired to support their children through physical activity. It was also supported by the Ontario Basketball Association.
When one parent asked how to encourage children to stay humble and support their teammates, Donna Best stressed the importance of family – the theme of the conference.
“I’m always telling Aaron: the family’s eyes are on you,” she said. “We’re close-knit, watching you, making sure you’re staying on the right track and making sure that you’re not getting caught up in the bright lights.”
Hugh Keane spoke about how introverted children can build relationships through participating in sports. “Kaza is very quiet,” he said. “Once he gets on the court he’s still a little bit non-vocal, but he begins to trust the people that are on his team and that usually becomes his conversational support.”
Elsewhere in the Hershey Centre, children were participating in activities supported by the University of Toronto Mississauga student volunteers – shooting hoops or designing signs in support of Raptors 905.
Ryan, grade 6, was decked out in Raptors 905 merchandise as he created a poster in support of his favourite player – DeMar DeRozan. With him was Jaiden, who says he would like to ask the Raptors 905 players what they had to sacrifice to become good players.
Back in the conference, John, the father of two children, asked about the best way to prepare his children for the loss of a familiar community network when they go to university. In his response, Hugh Keane addressed the sacrifices that parents make for their children. “When it’s your child’s dream and your child’s goal,” he told John, “you make the necessary adjustments that you have to – and it’s a wonderful experience for them.”
Donna Best stressed having a safe place for children to share any problems they’ve encountered. “We have to set an example,” she said. “You have to let the kids know what they’re going to be facing. You have to make it a comfortable environment for them to talk to you.”
The Executive Director of Let’s Get Together!, Alison Canning, finished up the conference with a closing statement about the importance of communities coming together to create good experiences for their children. She stressed that “it starts at home and it starts with us and that’s why we’re here today – to make sure that we have the tools to do the job so we can do it the best we can.
John Wiggins, the Team Operations Director for Raptors 905 stated that “This discussion that Let’s Get Together! is hosting is providing an interactive platform to help the parents learn from each other and share their insights as to how to best manage this responsibility. In most youth clubs that I’ve been a part of or have witnessed, the parents are the backbone of success for the program. Raptors 905 is happy to support this campaign as a way to help foster the future success of our athletes.”
Let’s Get Together!’s goal is to bring together a community of parents and youth who are inspired to support each other and to provide resources and opportunities for their communities.
Parent Involvement Matters was Let’s Get Together!’s first event – an event that Let’s Get Together! and Raptors 905 should be proud of. Alison Canning expressed her delight at the success of the event and is looking forward to the future.
She said, “This is the start of us; getting together and creating something better and creating a movement and making our world and our communities healthy.”
Moving forward, Let’s Get Together! will be partnering once again with the Raptors 905 team on March 10th for an event discussing a growth mindset. This presentation will provide powerful and inspirational messages from Raptors 905 players Aaron Best, Kaza Keane, Shevon Thompson and Kennedy Meeks on how they have developed resiliency and focus.
Visit our website at communitylearninghub.org for more information.
We hope to see your family there!
Julia Wischnewski is currently completing her Honours Bachelor’s Degree with the University of Toronto and specializes in Psychology and Religion. She works closely with various organizations that promote youth welfare and offer services to new families coming into Canada, including volunteering with Let’s Get Together! Julia plans on continuing her education by volunteering and teaching abroad once she has graduated.