Organizers of Malvern in Motion are mystified as to why the turnout was dramatically lower than previous years.
The Malvern Community Coalition hosted Malvern in Motion, its 6th annual neighbourhood festival, Sept. 11. The event focused on health and wellness by encouraging good eating habits and active living.
Malvern in Motion chair Venesse Lewis says she hoped for a bigger crowd, as nearly 800 people came out last year compared to 200 this year.
Despite the fewer people than expected, the grounds outside the Malvern Community Recreation Centre boomed with music, dance, and laughter. The smaller crowd meant more room for kids to run and play.
Parents and children lined up for free food, including roasted corn, catered Caribbean food and cake, while youth volunteers handed out soft drinks and freshly made popcorn.
Members of the city’s police, fire, and EMS departments also made appearances, and were greeted by grinning, giggling kids wanting to get a look inside their vehicles.
Marie Clarke Walker, the local residence organizer, said the goal of the festival is to engage young people in the community and to teach them the importance of being involved.
“There is both a youth component and a workshop component so that we can engage youth and they can engage us — frankly, it should be about them engaging us more than us engaging them,” Walker said. “This is their community, their future. Most of us that are involved are on our way out. So the building is for the next generation and the generation after that.”
Agencies including Taibu Community Health Centre and Action for Neighbourhood Change staffed booths promoting strong and healthy individuals and communities.
Labour coalition Good Jobs for All held a workshop educating about the importance of public services in building strong communities and of making them accessible to everyone.
“If we let our public services — our schools, our hospitals, our community centres, our libraries, our roads — collapse, it will take more than one or two or three generations to get them back,” Walker said. “If we don’t have those things, you’re looking at user fees most people won’t be able to afford, so they won’t be able to have those services that we currently enjoy.”