For years, we've brought together local international students, newcomers and local children and adults at tobogganing hills of Kingston to interact and engage with others in the community. We bring a supply of hot chocolate, snacks, water and extra toboggans and mitts. While there, we organize frequent informal races to get kids going down the hill simultaneously, which makes them safer and develops their social comfort. So enthused by the excitement, the kids will run up the hill after each race, eager for the next.
The exercise, fun and fresh air makes the kids happy while the snacks and drinks ensure parents will have an easier time with them, as they do not grow hungry. We encourage parents to go down the hill too, which often results in better bonding with their kids, as well as helping the parent develop socially as well. Many of the parents are newcomers, and have never tobogganed nor are familiar with tobogganing culture.
Over the years, we have made this a spontaneous multicultural event, an offshoot of barbecues and volleyball sessions of the same nature. We have done it on our own, using our own resources. When covid hit, the demand for these events skyrocketed. Generally, there will be 20 to 30 people involved over a 2-3 hour period, as often as 3 to 5 times a week, weather permitting. Children often are waiting for us to arrive, asking if we could have a race. We teach the kids how to do the same in case we are not available, ensuring the culture we create on the hill outlives us.
Our proof it is working? Our signature warning when about to go down the hill, "Get off my lawn!", has taken root, and now emerges without us. This functionally playful warning aimed at children down the hill ensures all children are engaging in social awareness - literally social consciousness - as a necessary part of sharing a public asset. How cool is that?
When we arrive, parents and children alike remark that they were hoping we'd show up. A flattering endorsement.
Funded by Kingston, ON (January 2022)