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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #20. Because a Living Room Charity is Changing the Way We Raise Our Kids

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #20. Because a Living Room Charity is Changing the Way We Raise Our Kids
(Image: Meri Pera)

Gwen Broda, a North York nurse who had three kids close together, and a few of her friends hatched a plan this year to help new parents. The New Mom Project is based on ­Finland’s famous baby box program, in which the government gives every expectant mom a starter kit of ­onesies, bedding and diapers. The system is often credited for helping bring down the country’s infant mortality rate from 65 in 1,000 to three in 1,000 during its 76-year run. Last ­January, Broda put out a call on social media for donations to help assemble her own first-year packages, which parents can access through a referral from their health care professional. Within three weeks, her home was so full of bouncy chairs, toys and tiny outfits, her kids couldn’t walk through the living room. She and her team of a dozen volunteers have already helped over 100 new families. The baby booty now comes in such huge volumes, she keeps it in a storage locker, and she’s scouting stand-alone space, with the long-term goal of turning the project into a national initiative. “Every mom in Canada should have the essentials,” says Broda. “I’m starting with Toronto.”

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