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Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services has penned an open letter to Toronto’s City Council making his case for why the city’s current street hockey ban should be lifted.  Council is expected to debate the issue later this week.

Michael Coteau says Ontario’s capital city can lead the way for other places around the province to encourage outdoor play.

“Road hockey bans are commonplace in municipalities across Ontario and I am hoping your council will show leadership by making it clear that children can and should play safely on neighbourhood streets,” he said.  “A vote to overturn the prohibition and let kids play will challenge other municipalities to abolish similar road hockey bans in their own communities.”

In his letter, Coteau, a father to two young daughters and MPP for Toronto’s Don Valley East constituency, stressed the many upsides of physical activity that go beyond on the obvious health and wellness benefits.  He said life skills such as communication, patience, perseverance and teamwork go hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle.

At paramount issue in this debate is the safety risk posed to children who are playing in the street. Council will also weigh the potential hazard for motorists as well as possible interference with city maintenance.  A city staff report recommends keeping the ban in place for those reasons.

“Transportation Services believes that the “Status Quo” option represents the best balance of competing needs. Recognizing that street hockey, basketball, and other sports activities do occur on public roadways, there are legitimate safety and liability concerns with permitting this activity,” the report states.

Coteau says he’s taken safety under consideration in his proposal and believes there are ways to encourage physical activity while also ensuring the well-being of children across the city.

“The obvious issue at hand is the safety of our children, and I agree that our kids need to be safe, but there has to be a better way than denying them of their right to play,” he said.  “That’s why I am urging all City Councillors to think carefully about this debate.”

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There is nothing like seeing your child explore a new toy for the first time, especially ones with sensory or educational value like a play kitchen.  Unfortunately for the less handy among us, the assembly process can be downright daunting and it may feel like your child will outgrow the toy before you’re done building it.

Just for fun, we’ve highlighted the 5 stages of assembling a toy kitchen.  Can you identify?

Shock & Denial

You’ve opened the giant cardboard box and have dumped its contents onto your living room floor. You now find yourself surrounded with 70 unique parts and a 25-page instruction manual complete with illustrations and symbols that resemble hieroglyphics etched into the wall of a pyramid.  Panic and dismay wash over you like a thick fog.

Pain & Guilt

You’ve sliced open your hand using the Allen key and your lower back is experiencing intense spasms and shooting pain.  The thought of quitting has crossed your mind 12 times a minute since you started but you won’t give up because depriving your child of the chance to cook fake food using her fake kitchenware is plain unacceptable.

Anger & Bargaining

Logically you know that fighting with the kitchen won’t get you anywhere, but your frustration is at a boiling point and you can’t take it anymore.  After crumpling the instruction manual in protest, you return to the half-finished kitchen and beg it for mercy in exchange for keeping your cool.

Reflection & Loneliness

It’s been four hours and you’re only half-finished.  The world seems bleak and meaningless and you’re wondering if you’ll ever breathe fresh air again.

Acceptance and Hope

The kitchen is done but there are a handful of miscellaneous parts leftover and you’re pretty sure they aren’t spares.  Still, you take a step back and applaud your perseverance in the face of unspeakable odds. Parenting win!