Baby Love Coordinators, Kris Yunker & Christine Collings:
Christine and myself are proud to announce that we have taken over as coordinators of the very popular Baby Love event. We are honoured to have been able to take on this role as Baby Love is very near and dear to our families and to the Manitoba Down Syndrome Community.
We thank the St. Saviours Anglican Church for the Donation of the use of their hall for the many years Baby Love was held there.
Christine and I hosted our very first Baby Love event on April 14, 2018. Baby Love was held at our new location at the Covenant Christian Reformed Church at 653 Knowles. The reason for the new location was as simple as a matter of needing more space. We had 136 people in attendance to meet and reacquaint themselves with each other.
We thank the Covenant Christian Reformed Church for the Donation of the use of their beautiful space and of their very helpful volunteer Jake. Jake helped assist with set up and whatever we needed assistance with throughout the event. Thank you also to MDSS member Donna Hrehirchuk for making this possible.
The large number of families were greeted and signed in by our very helpful volunteers Joan Kolbauer, Susan Cearns, her daughters Ruth and Rebecca Joseph. Christine and myself also greeted families as we were very excited to meet them all. Christine handed out the gifts to the children in our MDSS Community. We thank Rob,owner of Surplus Direct, for the Donation of these gifts!
Delicious food was served and entertainment was provided for the children. Ryan Price the Magician performed and kept the children entertained for quite some time. Ryan also included audience participation which was well received. After the show the children played with the many toys belonging to the Church.
I spoke on behalf of Christine and myself at which time we paid tribute to Joan Kolbauer. We thanked Joan for her many years of volunteering with MDSS. She has volunteered her time in honour of her beautiful Grand Daughter Zoe who resides in California. Joan has helped with so many MDSS events, including but not limited to, the See Me Beautiful Conference, she has sat on the MDSS Board and more recently she has been the organizer,for many years, of this Baby Love event. Joan received a beautiful boutique of flowers and shared some kind and heartfelt words through a speech she had written.
Thank you to Rebecca Joseph for having the Global News crew attend Baby Love. We have no doubt this coverage helped create awareness around Down Syndrome and this wonderful event. Thank you to the parents and children who were brave enough to speak with them as well. I believe you can see the clip here:
Baby Love has been intended for babies and new families. I’ve since learned there is a loose rule for the age of children who are invited. When my husband Lee and myself attended our first Baby Love with our son Taylor we had the pleasure of meeting Ruth and her friend Suzanne. They were not children, they were and are adults with Down Syndrome. They were seated at the front entrance greeting people and signing guests in. I cannot express enough the joy we felt after seeing them, and yes observing them, as functioning members in our Community. As new parents of a child with Down Syndrome this reassured us that life would be just fine.
For new parents of children with Down Syndrome, whether you had a pre-diagnosis or discovery after birth, we believe it is important to invite older children and self advocates with Down Syndrome to Baby Love. This year Lori Lester and her daughter Hailey attended. Lori has since passed on some kind words to me about their experience. We believe the families in attendance gained a lot from Hailey’s presence as did Hailey as she was able to speak with people and provide them with a lot of insight into her and her families experiences as well as our Down Syndrome Community.
Without the assistance of volunteers these events may never happen and we thank all of you who helped to make this day go so smoothly. In no particular order, Joan Kolbauer, thank you for taking all of my calls and texts which ended up going on and on as we are both chatter boxes and for sitting at the sign in table to greet guests. Susan, Ruth and Rebecca for greeting and signing guests in and for bringing the new MDSS pins for the guests. Rebecca, thank you for having Global News attend. Thank you Dorothy for taking on the kitchen/food prep, Micheline for arranging the entertainment, Donna, Val, and Christine’s mom Pat for helping with numerous other tasks. Thank you to my sister Kathy for being our events Photographer and to so many people that assisted with take down and clean up including some families in attendance and my husband Lee. If we have missed anyone we apologize and we thank you!
Thank you to all of the families that came from near and far to help make this event such a huge success.
“We hope you leave having met a new friend”
Kris Yunker & Christine Collings