It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of support for the Lowertown Community Centre (LCRC) playgroup.

I was on parental leave for three months last year with my daughter, Katia, who was nine-months at the time. Maria and Diane hosted a playgroup that my wife had attended with Katia, and she had spoken so highly of it that it was an easy decision for me to continue to take Katia. I immediately saw why my wife loved Maria and Diane’s playgroups so much. They both took a legitimate interest in each child, giving them attention, praise and lots of fun songs and games.

As a father, attending playgroups can be a little bit intimidating – we are often in the minority and, particularly with small infants, we can take a little longer in gaining confidence in our parenting skills. That I was welcomed so fully by Maria and Diane to the playgroup truly helped me grow in my role as father. Beyond learning songs and games to entertain Katia with, I always found at playgroup words of advice and encouragement from Maria and Diane and was introduced to other parents with whom I could bond and exchange experiences.

Equally important was being able to take Katia to a playgroup she had already become familiar with – both in terms of the space and Maria and Diane’s own unique styles -; it provided the kind of continuity that has helped her thrive.

An added and important bonus for me is that Maria in particular speaks in Spanish to my daughter. As a native speaker, I only speak to Katia in Spanish and it has been wonderful for Katia’s linguistic skills to be exposed to another Spanish speaker in this way. For example, Maria would, on the fly, translate the songs into Spanish (aside from her usual French and English versions) when addressing Katia. That she even thought to do so speaks to her kindness and vocation as an educator, and I am very grateful.

– Miguel Bernal-Castillero