This year’s Kids in Kare Picnic (KIK) was graced with the presence of Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon, along with more than 700 foster children, families and volunteers.
A lieutenant-governor has never attended a KIK Picnic in its 18-year history, so it was exciting for the many CFS staff volunteers, foster children and families to greet the dignitary.
Lt.-Gov. Filmon said she was extremely impressed with the annual event, which was held June 18 at the Forks Historic Site.
The KIK Picnic is a free event for foster children, foster parents and children from emergency placement shelters served by Child and Family Services of Winnipeg, Eastman, Jewish Child and Family Service and the Interlake. It includes food, entertainers, activities and prizes for all children who attend.
“I just loved meeting the people—the children, the parents and those who were volunteering their time. They did it with such friendliness and such sincerity.
“It was wonderful.”
She says she enjoyed visiting the various booths, from the karaoke tent to the body art (including hair braiding and henna tattoos), to the animals from Petland and Cloud 9 Ranch.
Additionally, the lieutenant-governor, who was a former social worker, said she met several young adults who were former foster children and were volunteering at this year’s picnic.
“That says an awful lot. It’s a lot of time and energy, and that is what life is made of. And they chose to give it there.”
Lt.-Gov. Filmon noted that if foster children come to the picnic with their families, it helps them learn a great service ethic, which could encourage them to give back when they are older.
Although many attendees had been to KIK in previous years, there were also newcomers who were amazed at the variety of activities and food.
Foster parent Tara said it was her first time at the event. She brought two foster children and her biological daughter.
“It’s fantastic,” she said, adding that her children had spent time at the Cloud 9 Ranch booth, which featured a four-week old baby horse (Jack) and its mother (Cracker), and were also enjoying the glitter tattoos.
New booths this year included The W.R.E.N.C.H. (Winnipeg Repair, Education and Cycling Hub), and a martial arts group. The W.R.E.N.C.H. teaches children how to repair bicycles and helps those who might not otherwise be able to afford a bicycle obtain one, because all bikes are donated.
The organization provided two bicycles for the picnic’s raffle, which, along with three from Jewish Child and Family Service—made it KIK’s most successful bicycle raffle to date.
Jennifer Sparling of The W.R.E.N.C.H. said KIK was a great fit for their organization, which is all about “empowering people to learn a new skill.”
And KIK is also about bringing families together. Foster parent Mallory, who brought her biological child and a foster child whom she is in the process of adopting, said that the event is something the family looks forward to each year.
Foster mom Lisa said it’s the fifth time she has attended with her foster children and finds that KIK is “such a good time to connect with foster families. It’s good to have a place where children can be with kids who are in the same situation and can connect with each other.”
She added that KIK is special because it’s put on completely by volunteer CFS workers, their families and community groups. “I want to recognize what the foster agencies are doing for us.”