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.
Two current large intiatives that are ongoing and described in more detail in their own sections are:
- 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 a local elementary school, a board game buddies program was developed by Daniela O'Neill and run with several teachers at the school for several years (except in 2020 due to Covid-19). The 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. This program took place during one 20 minute recess time weekly. It began with the older Grade 5 and 6 children (who volunteered to take part) learning how to play approximately 30 board games with playing times of approximately 10 minutes. Following this, for the remainder of the sessions, Grade 1 students were invited to drop-in and play the games with the older children. This activity fostered much language, social interaction, and laughter! It was amazing what we could do in 20 minutes!