By Janet Mabie
We recently checked in with Jennifer Webster to see how her and her husband Shuma Davis’ family is doing after having their family enrolled in CityKidz Ottawa consistently since we began in 2010. In 2011, CityKidz Ottawa interviewed Jennifer about her experience with CityKidz which had just started up in her neighbourhood.
In that video interview, which can be viewed on CityKidz Ottawa’s YouTube Channel, Jenn’s feeling about CityKidz were enthusiastic: “CityKidz is something positive for the kids to do, something that they look forward to, something that they have as their own, which is nice,” says Jennifer. At the time her daughter Lexus, who was 11 years old was enrolled and her son Jahadi was waiting eagerly to attend because he wasn’t quite six.
Since 2011, Jennifer’s younger children, Jahadi, Carman, and Amari, have also taken their turn to join the CityKidz program. Jahadi graduated from CityKidz a couple of years ago, Carman will graduate this year, and Amari, who was very eager to ride on the CityKidz bus like his sisters and brother, finally was old enough to attend in 2020. Sadly, because of the pandemic, he and his sister Carman haven’t been able to attend the Playhouse at all, but hopefully with restrictions being lifted in Ottawa, the Playhouse Theatre will become a weekly event again soon.
The past two years, dealing with COVID-19 and all the changes and restrictions has been challenging for the family, but it was not all negative. “It makes you realize how much you take for granted,” Jennifer reflected.
Now that COVID restrictions are being lifted, the Websters are hopeful. “This is Amari’s year to go the Playhouse,” shares Jennifer. “He turned seven-years-old last May, and he hasn’t been able to go to the playhouses because of the lock downs, but he has been right there involved in every visit when Wendy has come to the door over the years. He knows her well.” That’s because even with the pandemic, home visits continued and Carman and Amari received weekly visits with their home visit volunteers, Wendy, Phoebe and Alex.
A lot has changed since we first met Jennifer in 2011. Lexus is 20 years old now and plans to attend university in the fall. She will study Cognitive Science. “We’ll see where that path takes her,” says Jennifer. “She has always been into the sciences. It’s just, what direction?” Jennifer goes on to describe how when Lexus was in grade seven, she wanted to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. “Then it went from, no, she didn’t want to do physical surgeries on people, but she would like to do research, diagnostic and different things. We will see where it goes, but still in the sciences.”
Jahadi, who attended CityKidz from age six to twelve, just turned 16-years-old and loves basketball. “Right now, he is just into basketball,” tells Jennifer. “He eats, sleeps, everything basketball!”
Carman, who was just a baby when CityKidz began is now 12 years old and has also been attending from the time she was six. Like her sister and brother before her she has her own set of skills and passions. “She is our computer girl. She likes to create things on the computer. She is the architectural kind of person,” says Jennifer.
And finally, is the youngest of Jenn’s family, Amari. Amari wasn’t even born when CityKidz began but is planning to attend regularly. “Amari is seven-years-old, and he is just full of energy,” she says. “Whoever will pay attention to him in the house, he will be with you.” She describes how he would walk with her to the CityKidz bus and ask if he could go on it with his siblings. She was very happy to finally tell him this year, “Yes, yes, you can go!”
Jennifer would recommend CityKidz to friends and other families. “All my kids have gone through the CityKidz program. For it to be around for as long as it has and seeing the impact that it has on the kids is really nice to see”. Thanks Jenn! We love your family too!