Laughter and smiles have no language barriers. During the pandemic several families new to Canada and Vancouver moved into our 28-townhome complex, including one refugee Ukrainian family and one French family whose children and mothers speak no or little English yet. Our complex grows increasingly more diverse. With encouragement from all, everyone had fun with the face painting, juggling lessons, pottery, arts & crafts, water-play, games, special guests, and more. Our evening potluck had some of the best dishes imaginable!

Special guests provided some of the event’s most memorable moments. First to arrive were the massive firetruck and its crew who came and stayed for more than an hour. The kids clamoured all over the truck, and a firehose connected to our hydrant soon became a huge water gun fired down the sidewalk by any kid aged 2 – 77 who wanted a try! These firefighters were absolutely AWESOME! So friendly and funny. Handing out fire hats, stickers, ‘tattoos’ and joining in on our Spikeball tournament! Next up were the two motorcycle cops who answered a ton of questions, and let people sit on their bikes. Incredibly, the adults and seniors were the ones most giddy with delight as they took turns posing on the motorcycles and gunning the engines! Finally, we were fortunate to welcome another NSG project leader, Don Kirkby, who came to teach us some new dominoes games.

Outstanding in all respects, the party attracted more than 20 kids and 40 adults who stuck around ‘til the very end. Several are already planning another gathering for September and some more get-togethers around a firebowl throughout the summer! Leftover craft supplies, treats and prizes will be used up over time. The new Spikeball game is also available now for games between neighbours any time and is expected to see good use.

The benefits of this gathering will continue long into the future. Already more children are playing together. Adults are waving and pausing to talk to each other. Several met neighbours never seen before, and plan to continue hanging out. Our complex-wide WhatsApp group got more members, and will facilitate better sharing of information, asking and offering of help, and strengthening of our community connections. Perhaps best of all, residents old and new told me they feel more secure and safe living in this friendly community – saying over and over that what we have here is very special. And English is not a prerequisite.

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