Community outreach

Talk to Thrive logo

In the past few years, under an overall initiative called Talk2Thrive, Daniela O'Neill has increasingly engaged in more outreach in the community to help build strong foundations for language in children in fun and informal ways in peer-to-peer, family, school and community settings. Some of these intiatives have involved students she advises and/or students in her courses.

Follow this outreach on Talk2ThriveLab Instagram page

Exciting new grant received to expand our Board Game related activities in the community!

Daniela has recently received a grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation to expand our outreach with board games. This will include expanding the collections for younger and older children at all KPL branches, bringing collections to 10 further community locations, and expanding Board Game Buddies to 10 WRDSB schools! You can read more about the program and the new grant in this article in UWaterloo News

Recent and Ongoing Initiatives (see each section further information and open-access materials)

  • Family board game fun
    • Working with Kitchener Public Library (KPL), we hosted several Family Board Game Fun events in which we introduced children and families to many new boardgames that can be played by children as young as 2 years of age and that can be played in only 10-15 minutes. The events were very successful and enjoyed by patrons! What was especially unique about these events was seeing groups of siblings, parents and children, grandparents and children all playing and having fun together, with a diverse number of languages spoken. Daniela worked with KPL to curate a new collection of boardgames for children that was introduced into circulation in April 2021. This initiative is described in more detail in this section and relevant materials are provided openly for other interested libraries or institutions to use and adapt.
  • Board game buddies
    • Working with teachers at a local elementary school, theBoard Game Buddies Drop-In Recess Program was developed by Daniela O'Neill and has been ongoing for over 4 years (except in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19). The original intention of the program was to provide early grade students, many of whom were learning English as a second language, with a fun opportunity to build their language skills in interaction with older students. Board Game Buddies takes place during one 20 minute recess time weekly in the school library where the different games are all spread out on tables and the floor a few minutes before recess begins. For the first two recess sessions, only the older Grade 5 and 6 children volunteers take part learning how to play approximately 30 board games with playing times of approximately 10 minutes. Following this, for the remainder of the weekly drop-in sessions, Grade 1 students are invited to drop-in and play the games with the older children. This activity fosters so much language, social interaction, and laughter! It is amazing to see how much fun and learning can happen in 20 minutes and the children love it, with sometimes over 60 children participating!
  • Creating playful learning spaces for children in the city
    • Drawing from research and initiatives all around the world, Daniela and her students have been reimagining how spaces within local City of Waterloo and City of Kitchener parks can become richer with playful learning opportunities for young children and families. Students' presentations to city parks staff are available to view in this section.
    • This course and its student projects were highlighted in an article in the The Record July 25 2022 Reimagining playgrounds in Waterloo Region
  • Museums
  • Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation
    •  As of Dec. 2022, Daniela O'Neill has joined the Board of Directors at the Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation whose mission is to ensure all children in Canada are equipped with the literacy skills they need to reach their full potential.  CCLF was founded in 2017 by Heather Reisman, founder and CEO of Indigo and Chair of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, and Heather Munroe-Blum, Chairperson of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.