For a group of young children, MTYP has been the place where they’ve had their first interactions with other children. Ever.

Over the past two years, many parents have struggled to find activities that feel safe and fun. As in-person classes at MTYP resumed last fall and winter, many of the youngest students enrolled in the DramaVentures class were having brand new experiences – much to the delight and surprise of their parents and guardians.

Lindsay Delanoy says she and her husband are sports fans and they always assumed their kids would join them on the playing field. For their four-year-old son, Anthony, who has mild cerebral palsy, sports didn’t interest him. “With the pandemic, we haven’t really gotten him involved in anything,” says Lindsay. “Other activities didn’t feel like the best fit.”

Their disability worker suggested MTYP and the family decided to take Anthony to DramaVentures class on Saturday mornings. DramaVentures is a Saturday morning class focused on stories for children ages 3 and 4, whose caregivers join them in the class. The parents play alongside their children in various forms of imaginative play, songs and stories.

“Anthony’s got a big personality,” says Delanoy. “He loves imaginative activities and singing and dancing. He’s totally in his element at MTYP. It’s amazing for us to see him fitting in and blending. I can see that in this group he feels really confident. He feels comfortable.”

“He could fully participate to the same extent as his peers,” says Anthony’s mother. “It was all activities he enjoyed. Stories. Crafts. Everything.”

Susan with students during a DramaVentures class!
Susan with students during a DramaVentures class!

Susan Bohn, the instructor of the class, says that “watching the absolute joy when Anthony plays is amazing.” Together, Susan and Lindsay watch him to make sure he doesn’t lose his balance, but he is otherwise independent in the class. “He’s not completely independent in all areas. He needs some support with motor skills and getting up off the ground.”

“He’s found the thing he can be successful at,” says the delighted mom.

Julie Bonk, a Psychologist in St. James School Division, also enrolled both her two and four-year-olds in DramaVentures over the winter. “I really like the fact that I can accompany them. Because of their ages, they still need a bit of help staying on task and making crafts. It’s a really nice group to be a part of.”

Julie’s family also struggled during the pandemic to find activities that her boys would enjoy. “Soccer. Playdates. We haven’t done any of it,” says Bonk.

“It was really good for them to learn the classroom routine,” says the mother of two, who finds daycare too much of a “free for all”. “This was more structured. And they could take activities home.”

“I like that there were so many options,” she says. “There’s a literacy component. A musical one. A physical one. Creative. Something for their motor skills. It was a lot of fun, highly stimulating and engaging.”

For many in the class, the fun continues long after they leave MTYP. “Susan would introduce us to songs and in the evening we would try and sing them again.” Both parents also attend the class so that they can be there if their kids need them.

Bohn, a longtime MTYP teacher, loves teaching the youngest children, adding, “This particular group was amazing. The parents play and interact and become part of the class. The structure allows the kids to model from their parents what’s expected of them in a classroom, and prepares them to move on to future classes on their own.”

Both Delanoy and Bonk say they look forward to taking their children to more MTYP classes.

“Next winter, we’ll be back. We love having something that gets us out of the house,” says Bonk. “They called it Susan time. It was very easy to get them to go to MTYP. They were super pumped.”