The first thing people saw heading into the backyard at One Kids Place for its free movie night, were firefighters helping youngsters, hop up into the driver’s seat of their fire truck.
With beaming smiles, the children sat waving to those waiting their turn.
A short walk around the building and visitors were greeted by the boisterous sound of children’s laughter and squeals as they ran around playing, and making new friends.
Adults formed long lineups for the free food and drink.
Before the show had even started, moviegoers had eaten their way through one thousand hotdogs, not to mention all the other treats including pop and hundreds of freezies.
Katie Bethune was kept busy trying to keep up with the demand for popcorn.
She volunteered last year at the first movie night.
“It’s a lot of fun. There’s a great turnout this year,” said Bethune between bagging and handing out popcorn.
“I work here with the kids, so I love seeing them come out and just having a blast. I love chit chatting with the families. Seeing them out here having fun is very rewarding.”
Those who had already made their way through the lines sat on blankets spread out on the ground, or folding chairs, eating their food, waiting for the sun to set so the movie could begin on two big screens.
The decision to hold a second outdoor movie night was based on last year’s success.
Executive director, Denis Filiatrault, says it’s about giving back to the community.
“We really appreciate the tremendous support from our community at One Kids Place. It’s really important for us as an organization that we be community leaders as well. We really wanted to thank North Bay and our families for providing us with support over the years.” said Filiatrault.
“We’re humbled by what our community actually does for One Kids Place daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and so it’s just our way of saying thanks.”
Bobby Rae and his young family enjoyed the opportunity to have some outdoor fun.
“It means a lot to us. There’s not a ton of opportunities for things like this in North Bay. We saw it on social media, and we thought it was a neat idea,” said Rae.
“It’s always good for kids to socialize with others, and there’s not always a ton of opportunities to do that. It’s a perfect night.”
One Kids Place is an outpatient rehabilitation centre for children and youth, from birth to the age of 18.
“We provide a variety of rehabilitation services from occupational therapy, to physiotherapy to speech-language pathology. Our mandate is really to help children with special needs be included in the community, and really achieve some of the most live long successes that they can have,” said Filiatrault.
“We also provide autism services as well, and our catchment area for our services is the Districts of Nipissing, Muskoka and Parry Sound. But for some of our services such as autism, we actually go as far as the James Bay Coast, Moosonee, and Moose Factory as well.”
The organization strives to serve a minimum of 3,000 clients annually.
“This past year we actually served 3,600 children, and we conducted close to 30,000 visits. I’m proud of our staff. We have dedicated health care professionals that work with our families on a daily basis.”
One Kids Place has five centres to serve the various districts.
“We deliver those services at the centre, we go to daycares, we’re in schools, and we go into family homes as well. We’ll do anything we need to do, to be able to support a family and their children.”
Jimena Torres-Valencia is a speech-language pathologist, working in schools supporting children with varying degrees of speech and language needs.
“I support them through direct therapy visits, consultive support with the classroom teachers and their educational assistants, as well as the parents in terms of providing suggestions, recommendations, and strategies for them to implement in their every day lives to make communication easier for them,” said Torres-Valencia.
‘It’s really amazing to see our community gather here on the grounds of One Kids Place. I’ve seen a number of clients here tonight. That is why I do what I do, so they are able to take part in this kind of community event, socializing with friends and family, and meeting new people.”
Speech-language pathologist Natasha Roy agrees with her co-worker, that an event like this where their clients are able to mingle and have fun with other people, is very rewarding.
“I’ve seen so many clients here. They’re giving me hugs and they’re so happy, and their families are happy. The interaction with other children is wonderful. It’s a great opportunity for the families of One Kids Place,” said Roy.
“You want what they learn in therapy to be part of their everyday activities. I have three children myself and they’re here with me, and they get to see what I do, and the children I work with, so it’s perfect.”
Organizers estimate the crowd size to be around 400.