Welcome to GTAParent: Helping you to Thrive in Your Life!

Top 3 Reasons Your Child Should Sing in a Choir


torontochildrenchorusAudition season is here at the Toronto Children’s Chorus for the 2016-2017 year! This time of year has us thinking about all the ways an exceptional education in music is critical to a child’s development – and we wanted to take a moment to share it with you! Register for an audition online today! http://www.torontochildrenschorus.com/join-us/  


1) Exceptional Education

Toronto Children's Chorus
TCC choristers rehearsing at our annual Main Choir music camp.

We take your child’s love of singing and provide an exceptional music education. They will acquire superior musical skills that include sight-singing, ear-training, and theory; in addition to performing a vast and varied repertoire. The Chorus continues to make a unique contribution to the international model of children’s choirs, one that has been duplicated the world over. The Chorus consists of six choirs— four levels within the training choir programme, the main choir and a youth choir. These four training choirs provide a programme of sequentially developed skills, ultimately preparing choristers for admission into the main performing choir of the Chorus. The Chorus also includes a Kindernotes programme for children aged 3-6, and a Choral Academy, featuring solo vocal classes and Royal Conservatory of Music theory and history classes.  

2) Exceptional Performance

Toronto Children's Chorus
The TCC Holiday concert takes place every year at Roy Thomson Hall.

 The Toronto Children’s Chorus is a leader in the world of children’s choirs. Founded in 1978, the Chorus has performed at revered venues such as the Musikverein, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Royal Albert Hall with internationally celebrated conductors. The Chorus also presents an annual concert season. Choristers in all choir levels benefit from the experience of performing in some of Toronto’s professional venues such as Roy Thomson Hall and Toronto Centre for the Arts. “Each time the TCC performs with the Toronto Symphony, I am struck by the maturity of their sound. The children are incredibly disciplined with a warmth and richness rarely heard in children’s choirs.” — Peter Oundjian, Music Director, Toronto Symphony Orchestra  

3) Exceptional Experience

Toronto Childrens Chorus

TCC Choristers meeting the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau while on tour in New York City. 

Research has proven the undeniable benefits of music-making on children’s cognition, self-esteem, and academic ability. Become members of an expansive network of caring and dedicated parents, children, alumni, and volunteers. You will make life-long friends! “The fact that children can make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music can make beautiful children.” — Cheryl Lavender, Music Educator, Composer, and Author

Sign up for an audition

Every Spring and Fall, the Toronto Children’s Chorus holds auditions. All children with a love for singing are invited to audition.  Children are placed into the appropriate choir based on age and level. To register, click here. Financial assistance and payment plans available. For more information, email info@torontochildrenschorus.com
Toronto Children's Chorus

Thriving in Leadership Event: June 9th | Leading with Passion in Purpose Toronto Event

When: Thursday June 9th, 2016
Time: 4-8 pm
Cost: Early Bird until May 10 (save $15): $40 Non Members | WIBN Members: $25  | Purchase a Women in Biz Network membership now and save 
Members use coupon code (valid memberships will be checked if code is used) : 
Location: CFIB Headquarters, 4141 Yonge St, North York, ON M2P 1N6

In order to truly Thrive in life we must explore how we achieve and lead our communities.
Join us for another amazing round Pecha Kucha style of presentations as a follow up to our Thrive Conference. We will enjoy  table discussions around each presentation on the important pillar of leadership.


Also check out and Tune intoThrive in My Life Podcast:

The @ThriveinmyLife Podcast is for anyone who loves learning and being inspired by community leaders who thrive in their work and play. The goal of the podcast is to inspire, share tools, resources and ideas in supporting our professional and personal lives. The topics discussed are centred on Compassion/Community, Healthy Living/ Spirituality, Financial Wellbeing/Fun and Leading/Learning. Show us how you thrive in your life …. share your videos, blogs and pictures and hashtag with #thriveinmylife
The podcast is hosted by the founder of Women in Biz Network Leigh Mitchell along with Sperry Bilyea and Bonnie Sainsbury

7 Reason's Soccer is Essential to Kids #activeforlife

Soccer season is around the corner, what I love about soccer is that it can be played in a backyard, a field or in an organized league with a very small investment - second hand soccer shoes are easy to find. Playing soccer is a favourite amongst my boys after school running around in our backyard to laugh, let out some aggression and have fun.  Find soccer skill programs through City of Toronto for Adults and Children here. 

7 Reason's Soccer is Essential to Kids #activeforlife

Just about any sport or physical activity will help to develop physical literacy and good movement skills. However, if you had to pick one sport that developed the most skills and capacities, it would have to be soccer.
Even at the basic levels of development, physical literacy includes a long list of fundamental movement skills. The most essential of these — out of hundreds — are generally accepted to be running, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking, hopping, skipping, galloping, and dodging. These skills are based in turn on a foundation of physical capacities called the ABCs of movement: agility, balance, coordination, and speed.
Throw into the mix some spatial orientation skills and cognitive decision making, and you have most of what makes up physical literacy.
So how does soccer rate on these points? Extraordinarily well, as it turns out.

1. ABCs

Agility, balance, coordination, and speed are closely connected to the development of the central nervous system (CNS) in early childhood. The bodies of preschool children are silently waiting for precisely the kind of stimulation that will get the CNS preparing and adapting for the ABCs. As it happens, quick changes of direction and diversity of movement are intrinsic to soccer, so the simple act of playing the game provides the perfect stimuli to help children to develop these capacities. You can almost hear each child’s CNS saying: “Gee, thanks for registering me in soccer!”

2. Running

Soccer involves a little bit of running. Actually, it involves a lot of running. And best of all, for children who haven’t reached puberty, it provides exactly the kind of running they need: short distance sprinting followed by short time intervals of recovery. Note: If your child’s U9 coach is sending the team on long laps of the field, you might ask him why. The science shows that jogging around a soccer field at half speed is doing nothing to develop the quickness and interval recovery required to play soccer. Furthermore, it isn’t helping your pre-pubertal child to be a better distance runner anymore than if she was playing the game for 10 minutes and having a lot more fun.

3. Jumping, hopping, skipping, galloping, and dodging

When your child plays soccer, there are a lot of other players on the field who want to frustrate their efforts to run and play the ball. Consequently, the game demands that kids do a lot of jumping and dodging to evade opponents. It also demands that they hop, skip, and even gallop at times as they change speed and adjust their stride to avoid players and change direction.

4. Throwing and catching

Hold on. When are you allowed to use your hands in soccer? Well, for starters, every time the ball passes out of play on the sidelines. Play restarts with a throw in, and every player needs to learn how to do it. And goalkeepers, a position just about every child plays at some point during their early years in the game, are constantly catching the ball with their hands and passing it to teammates with a baseball-style throw.

5. Tracking the movement of an object in flight

One of the less discussed aspects of physical literacy — but integral to throwing and catching as well as striking something with a bat or racquet — is the ability to track the movement of an object (e.g., ball) as it travels through the air. Your child’s ability to use her eyes to track movement and estimate speed and distance does not “just happen”. As with movement skills, it needs to be developed through real experience and practice. Soccer provides plenty of experience as the game constantly challenges players to gauge the speed, distance, and trajectory of the ball.

6. Decision making

The ability to “read the environment” and respond with appropriate decisions is another element of physical literacy that is often overlooked. In the days of our distant ancestors, it might have meant deciding to climb a tree quickly after spotting a lion. In the context of a sport such as soccer, it is deciding to pass the ball to a teammate running to open space, or shooting at goal when the goalkeeper is out of position. The game constantly creates fresh cognitive challenges where players must gather information from their physical environment, analyze that information, and then execute an appropriate physical response.

7. Kicking

Not much needs to be said here. There is a lot of kicking in soccer. And the range of kicking techniques can eventually become remarkably complex as players develop in the sport. (For instance, according to Active for Life contributor Istvan Balyi, players in Hungary used to be expected to be able to play the ball with eight different surfaces of the foot. How many of us can even identify eight distinct surfaces on one foot?)
Soccer is practically a physical literacy wonder drug. If we could package it in tablet form, we could sell it as a prescription medicine for developing all-around movement skills in children.
Jim Grove
About the author: View all posts by 
Jim Grove is a senior contributing editor at Active For Life and a consulting editor to national sport organizations on physical literacy and Long-Term Athlete Development. He holds a degree in education along with NCCP certification as a youth soccer coach. Married with three children, he has 17 years experience coaching children and youth ages 5 to 18. Follow Jim on Twitter, @grovecoach.

Active for Life is a non-profit organization committed to helping parents raise happy, healthy, physically literate kids. For more information like this one, please visit Activeforlife.com

launch KidActive

5 tips for active, adventurous travels with kids #activeforlife

5 tips for active, adventurous travels with kids
Traveling is one of my biggest passions. For me, it’s a great way to connect with nature and the world outside my yard. Before having kids, and while I was still living in Venezuela, my life revolved around travel. Now my life revolves around my wife, our 7-year-old daughter, and our 4-year-old son, but having a family hasn’t diminished my wanderlust, if anything it’s enhanced it.
For three months, starting on March 2, 2015, the four of us embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through Central America. We traveled through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras (Roatan Island), Belize, and Guatemala.
Our family ventured into the unknown and hiked through mountains and rainforests. We visited volcanoes, explored inhabited islands in the Pacific, swam with turtles and whale sharks, paddled over pristine coral reefs, and interacted and connected with local communities such as the Mayans, Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, and the Criollo people of Central America.
I often get asked how we pulled that off. How did we keep the kids entertained and active for 90 days? In truth, it wasn’t that hard, but we did learn a lot along the way. Here are our five tips for adventurous outdoor traveling with kids:

1. Stay in each location for a minimum of one week

We travelled at a slower pace to avoid overwhelming our kids with too much. This gave us the opportunity to take it easy and really enjoy ourselves in each location. We found this helped us balance play time, travel time, quiet time, and even TV time.

2. Split “adventure days” with “easy days”

rodney-family_300_01Very active days were great but also tiring. Sometimes is was better to just hang around our rental. The kids would play independently, swim in the pool, or do crafts. On occasion, we would sometimes split our days, combining a very busy morning with a quiet afternoon.

3. Travel using local transportation

Renting a car can be very convenient but using local transportation is an adventure on its own and kids love it! We did a lot of walking, sometimes up to three kilometres, just to get to our destination. Also taking the anticipated “chicken bus” and “tuk-tuks” (aka: moto-taxi) were often the highlight of the day. Traveling with the locals also allowed us to interact more deeply with the culture.

4. Plan your day with a purpose

rodney-family_300_02We visited places with a specific purpose of doing something active and/or interesting.
For us, a purpose meant an experience. So, rather than just planning on going to a place like a old ruin, a beach, or a mountain, we planned activities to do in those places, such as traveling back in time to old civilizations, boogie boarding, paddling a kayak, or finding the mighty quetzal in the cloud forest.
Having a direction to the day helped to keep us all focused, and motivated the kids (and the adults) to get out and try something new. It’s easy for inertia to set in, especially because traveling with kids can be exhausting. Having a purpose to our day made sure we took advantage of all of the amazing places we were and opportunities that were available to us.

5. Learn something new

rodney-family_300_03Everywhere we went we found something new to try or learn. My kids learned about tropical natural history, ancient Mayan culture, the art of weaving, and making chocolate, among other things. Every day was a learning experience and our children were eager students.
Developing physical literacy skills while we were traveling was also very important to me. As a personal trainer, I know how important balance and stamina are in overall fitness. An added extra with all of these adventures was that the kids improved their balance and stamina — without even realizing it! Their exposure to walking and running on cobblestone streets in Antigua, climbing Mayan ruins, and playing in the ocean waves have helped my children to be more confident and physically stronger, making it easier for them to travel in this way.

Bonus tip: stay in places with a pool

One of the biggest secrets of our success had to do with trying to book rentals with swimming pools whenever we could. On easy days, or a quiet afternoon, a pool was the perfect activity, keeping kids moving and cool. We could relax reading a book and enjoyed splashing about with the kids too. Our daughter even learned how to swim during our trip!
Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses — some days were downright rough — but overall the entire experience was extraordinary. I loved watching my kids learning new skills, enjoying nature, getting immersed in new cultures, interacting with locals, and being active outdoors. Seeing them exhausted at bed time was priceless. The level of satisfaction I felt with this trip was one that I never experienced in my pre-kids travel days.
Don’t let having children stop you from getting out and seeing the world. Sure, traveling with them may be more challenging and you might not be able to do all of the things you would do if you were on your own, but I guarantee that it will be better than you could have ever imagined.

Active for Life is a non-profit organization committed to helping parents raise happy, healthy, physically literate kids. For more information like this one, please visit Activeforlife.com

All images courtesy Rodney Fuentes
Rodney Fuentes
About the author: View all posts by 
Rodney is a wellness mentor, personal trainer, and avid naturalist with a background in ecotourism and outdoor adventure travel. He has dedicated his life to traveling, exploring, and connecting with the outdoors. He founded Explore Origins with the goal of raising awareness towards well-being and nature connection through wellness retreats and coaching. Rodney lives in Peterborough with his wife and 2 children. Follow Rodney on Twitter,@exploreorigins.

March Break Fun on the Subway Line #Thriveinmylife

5 Fun Things to Do When You Get off at
Bathurst Subway Station 

The best thing about an adventure is that you don't know exactly where you are going to go. That is exactly what we did this March Break. We popped on the subway and hopped off at Bathurst Station (Bloor/Danforth Line). I let my boys pick where we would go along the way. The best part was we got some exercise and had a lot of fun and lots of giggles. Here is where we went. 

1. Head to Honest Eds to clown around and take fun pictures (Remember it is closing December 2016)

2. Have lunch and play board games at Snakes and Lattes 

3. Check out the record shop just east of Snakes and Lattes

4. Head to the Comic Book Shop just beyond the record shop

5. Final destination Royal Ontario Museum

Active Family Fun Getaway in Spring, Summer and Fall @BlueMtnResort

Blue Mountain in Collingwood area is a great place for an active family to getaway.  We have given it our official GTA Parent Approved Family Getaway Approval. We received no compensation for this review. 
GTAParent Friendly Getaways
Our family has been to Blue Mountain both in Winter and Summer and this is a great getaway for an active family. 
We really enjoyed the zip lining and the roller coaster style mountain run  when we last visited in the Fall of 2015. We also used the indoor/outdoor (all year round),  it was perfect to utilize after we checked out of Blue Mountain Resort. Find all the details at  Plunge Aquatic Centre
The customer service at Blue Mountain Resort was absolutely excellent - I wouldn't hesitate to go back.  For more ideas on experiencing Blue Mountain area enjoy the snippets of useful information from a review posted on BlogTo 
Blue Mountain Resort

Blue Mountain Resort
Blue Mountain Resort
Dining options at Blue Mountain include the C&A Steak Company (good but not cheap), Fire Hall Pizza Co.Twist Martini & Wine LoungeKaytoo Restaurant & Bar (which proved a late night hub during our stay), and a host of others listed off here.
If you're going to go to Blue Mountain, this should be the reason why. You can find resorts with nicer accommodations and more exquisite dining options within a two hour drive of Toronto, but you'd be hard pressed to find a place where there's more to do. It's not really possible to list off all of these activities here, but I'll mention a few that I think are worth pursuing:
Blue Mountain ResortMountain Biking: Designed with the downhill crew in mind more than XC riders, this is about as legitimate as it gets in Ontario. Friends tell me that the trails have become less challenging over the years as a more populist (read: safe) approach has been taken to the course, but that this is still one of the premiere destinations for the sport within a reasonable drive of Toronto. And there's no need to go uphill! That's what the gondola is for. The trip up takes less than five minutes.
Blue Mountain ResortHiking: If you're into working up a sweat, there are loads of well-maintained hiking trails across the mountain. If you want the view from the top of the mountain without having to work for it, hop on the gondola and enjoy (that's what we did). Best time to do the latter: early sunset when there's still enough light to shoot decent photos of the world below.
Blue Mountain ResortAdventure Amusement Sports: Okay, I just made that term up, but it seems to capture some of the recreational options you'll find tied into the mountain. I'm thinking of the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, which is pretty much a roller coaster down the mountain that allows you to control your speed (yup, this is quite fun) and the brand new high ropes course. The latter will take you almost 20 metres above the ground, which is itself already elevated thanks to the mountain. There's also a less elaborate ropes course a little lower on the mountain that's easier to navigate for pure beginners and kids.
One caveat: this high ropes course is quite challenging physically, so it might not be the best to try after an indulgent night of food and drink. It's also relatively expensive, so you don't want to go and then bail 30 minutes later.
Scandinave SpaScandinave Spa: If you maxed yourself out the night before, you could spend sometime at the Cascade putting course or take a trip to the spa. While there are two on site, the best one is a short drive away. I practically had to be dragged to Scandinave, but once I'd done the first cycle of a hot bath and cold plunge, I soon became almost stoner-relaxed. I didn't really know what to expect upon arrival, but this ended up being the highlight of the trip. It's a beautiful setting and the facilities are in pristine shape. At $48, it's worth every penny, especially considering you'll probably want to stay for about three hours.
If you want to dial up the relaxation another notch, there are a variety of massage services of offer as well, but the regular facilities were more than enough for me (my partner did indulge in a massage and had good things to say about the experience).
In addition to what's listed above, the resort also features a golf and tennis facilities (Monterra) and multiple swimming pools and hot tubs (both indoor and outdoor).
Blue MountainOther stuff to do:
Scenic Caves: Not affiliated with Blue Mountain Resort, but located on the top of Blue Mountain,Scenic Caves Adventures might not be a place for those who suffer from claustrophobia or a fear of heights, but the suspension bridge, zip-line course, and the caves themselves are all pretty great.
Cycling: Along with mountain biking, the area around Blue Mountain is great for roadies who want to test their mettle on the truly hilly terrain that Ontario has in such short supply. If you're feeling brave, you can try to make it up Scenic Caves drive (I made it, but with a couple of clip-outs). If you're feeling really brave, you can ride back down.

The Thrive Summit April 4, 2016 at the Centre for Health and Safety Innovation

Thrive Summit

Conference Tickets to Women in Biz Network’s Conference are going fast. This unique event is a combination of a  business and personal development retreat
Location: The beautiful Centre for Health and Safety Innovation in Mississauga. Enjoy free parking on site!
Date: April 4, 2016
Join over 150 professionals and small business owners on Monday, April 4th at the Centre for Health and Safety Innovation. Enjoy  Interactive and engaging sessions including Real Time Unconference sessions with Thrive Mentors. The conference will help you improve your financial success, set new goals, prioritize your healthy living (including stress management) and increase work life quality, productivity, clarity and focus. Over 20 members of our thrive team (including productivity expert and bestselling author Chris Bailey – Author of the Productivity Project) will leave you inspired, energized and ready to prioritize your health, wellbeing, purpose and work objectives more effectively. Enjoy Rise and Arrive with Marni which includes movement and mindfulness as well as a yoga and writing workshop,  coupled with afternoon leadership and learning sessions  based on our four pillarsPlease note: lunch tickets must be purchased separately.  View Conference Web Site 

  • Each Registrant will Receive a Copy of The Productivity Project with their Registration!
Conference Advertisement
  • Wealth Generation 
  • Try out the Business Benefits of Coworking 
  • Health and Stress Management 
  • Email Marketing 
  • Linkedin and Social Personal Branding
  • Business Planning 
  • Writing Workshop with Yoga and much more!
Just some of our afternoon sessions  based on our Four Pillars 
Register soon, as tickets are going very quickly and you will certain benefit from workshop selection the sooner you invest in your commitment to thrive!Register now. 

RED SANDCASTLE THEATRE’s Jacques and the Bean Stock Market #redsandcastletheatre in #leslieville

What we thought: On the first winter storm of the season, my family and I braved the elements to see Red Castle Theatre's Jacques and the Bean Stock Market. The show was amazing because of the interactive elements, music and comedy. Our children were thrilled to be in the dance routine which was super funny and cleaver. My favourite characters were Ronald Bump (awesome take on Donald Trump) and the sassy cat! All actors involved were very witty and the plot was cleaver. Affordable show to take the family to, in the fun neighbourhood of Leslieville (just west of the beaches). 

Pantomime Definition: A theatrical entertainment, that involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.

Jacques and the Bean Stock Market

It’s panto time again (oh yes it is!) and the Red Sandcastle Theatre’s Panto Players are presenting their 5th annual, magical, traditional family pantomime for the festive season.

Jacques and the Bean Stock Market is full of fun and sparkle, with more than a sprinkling of pantomime magic.

Jacques and his mom the Widow Twankey live in a quaint little Leslieville cottage, with their ever-reliable cow, Buttons. It’s a nice life until the milk goes off.

Selling their cow for magic beans to the Cheshire Cat, (A cat who has found employment with the rude and greedy corporate giant, Ronald Bump), turns Jacques world upside down and makes everything rather unpleasant as shiny new condos seem to grow around them over night.

But can Jacques profit from this Bean Stock Market?

If Twankey “looks out behind her” can she keep her home?

Now a Leslieville tradition this year’s Jacques and the Bean Stock Market is a fun-filled family pantomime brought to you by the creative team of Jane Shields and Rosemary Doyle who brought you The Shoemaker and the Pantomimes, Alice in Blunderland, Sleepy Beauty, and Dick Whit for Mayor. Jackie English will be bringing her directing talents, and of course returning with her crowd favourite “Cheshire Cat” as always, the Cat is BACK!

Filled with catchy songs, silly jokes, dastardly villains, delightful dancing and a huge dose of slapstick, the Red Sandcastle Theatre once again serves up a sparkling festive treat!

Starring:Taran Beaty, Robert Keller, Michael Posthumus, Matthew Donovan, Victor Pokinko,

Kristen Foote, Rosemary Doyle and Jackie English as the Cat!

SHOW DATES: DEC 18, 19, 20, 26,27,28,29,30,31, Jan 2,

Tickets: $25 Adult, $15 Child, $55 Family Fun pack-4 tickets

922 Queen Street East, Toronto Ontario
BOX OFFICE 416 845-9411

Please contact Rosemary Doyle, via redsandcastletheatre@gmail.com