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Leonardo and family

Myself (Leonardo), my wife Claudia, and my son Miguel moved from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Kelowna in May 2017. We were in search of a better future for Miguel that would be safer, as well as more economically and politically stable.

When we first arrived in Canada, it was hard for us. We were still adjusting to the move and the many changes that were happening around us. To take care of Miguel, I wasn't working and Claudia was in school full-time, so our funds were limited.

Before we moved, Miguel liked to swim, so we placed him in swimming lessons at H₂O Adventure + Fitness Centre where he could socialize with other children his age. This helped us all feel a little more comfortable in our new home and created a sense of community for us.

That is also where we learned that the Y offered financial assistance to families who couldn’t afford child care. We did not qualify for the Child Care Subsidy in BC, so we were so thankful that assistance was available to us.

The first week Miguel started in YMCA Child Care at Kelowna Secondary School, he was excited about a new place and new friends. Although he struggled at first because he could not speak or respond in English, Miguel has adjusted well — thanks in part to the amazing and supportive YMCA staff. Without our parents or other members of our family here in Canada, they truly have become a part of our extended family.

If it wasn't for the support network we found through the Y, and the financial assistance we received for child care, I don’t know where we would be. I would not be able to work full-time, Claudia would not be able to attend courses at the college and we would struggle to split our time to ensure someone is able to care for Miguel.

We are so incredibly grateful for the happiness the Y has brought us.

—Leonardo and family