Meet Sarah, Our Featured Instructor

Meet Sarah, Our Featured Instructor

We are excited to feature our Instructor of the month, Sarah Hodkinson. Sarah has been teaching dance classes for kids here at Playocity for several months now and there’s no doubt that we feel lucky to have her onboard. Since she began teaching dance, yoga, creative movement, and acting programs, we’ve received nothing but praise for her stellar work. Now, our partners are requesting Sarah to come back and teach more programs across multiple locations. We are beyond thrilled to receive such wonderful requests!

Sarah’s Journey Into the Performing Arts

Sarah is a Toronto-based performer who has more than 20 years of experience under her belt. She has worked in various industries, including theatre, TV, and film.

As a passionate performer and instructor, Sarah started with ballet when she was five years old. From there, she branched out and started exploring other styles of dance in her teens, including jazz, modern, and hip hop. Around the age of 15, Sarah started facilitating dance classes for kids.

In high school, she got into choreography and started helping with musicals and dance shows. She further honed her acting skills by taking part in school plays and at a local theatre in town.

“I’m from a small town and always dreamt of moving to Toronto to pursue acting and dance,” shares Sarah. Her high school drama teachers also played a big role in her development as they encouraged young Sarah to pursue her dreams.

Sarah obtained her Intermediate from the Royal Academy of Dance, and she is trained in the Cecchetti method, musical theater, contemporary, jazz, and hip hop.

When she moved to Toronto, Sarah got into the Randolph College for Performing Arts. Staying true to her dreams of pursuing TV and film, she got an agent, and from there, Sarah went to numerous auditions and participated in various productions, ranging from TV shows to short films and commercials. Her journey led her to a new path, where she discovered her love for writing and producing her own films. In fact, some of the short films that Sarah produced have been screened across the country. In addition, Sarah has also acted in principal roles for short films featured in prestigious film festivals such as the Canada Shorts Film Festival and the HollyShorts Film Festival.

But Sarah’s journey wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

“It sounds easy to describe it this way, but this has taken my whole life working hard, staying focused, and getting up every time there’s a rejection, setback, or real life gets in the way. Being a performer has made me very resilient,” she shares.

Sarah Hodkinson - dance, yoga, acting teacher for kids

Talent Runs in the Family

Sarah’s talent and passion for performing runs in the family. Her grandmother was a ballet teacher trained by Betty Oliphant herself, who then encouraged Sarah’s grandmother to become a ballet teacher. Sarah’s grandmother also stayed true to her dreams, having started her own ballet school in Dryden, Ontario. What’s more, all of Sarah’s uncles took dance classes, and her father was such an excellent dancer that the National Ballet wanted him to be a part of their company.

Growing up, Sarah always wanted to be an actress. “I never thought I would be dancing or teaching. At this age, your body takes a toll. I’m grateful to do both,” she says. According to Sarah, her favorite thing about performing is being able to live and explore a different reality. The experience allows her to connect with something beyond herself, she just loves being on set or onstage and working with other creatives. Furthermore, she thinks that the energy of make-believe is nothing short of magic.

Sharing Her Talent and Skills to Make a Positive Change

Today, Sarah is an integral part of Playocity, where she uses her talents, knowledge, and skills to teach learners about the transformative power of the performing arts. Embodying Playocity’s values and mission, Sarah is all about creating safe, engaging, and positive learning environments for students of all ages. Like her Playocity family, Sarah wants to help kids discover and explore their creativity and combine fun and learning to make a positive impact in their lives.

Sarah shares that her experience working with Playocity has been amazing and refreshing. “I feel seen and heard, and like many people, I have a lot on the go, and Playocity has only helped me make everything work.” She adds that she feels lucky to be able to teach kids while still being able to pursue her acting career.

Sarah knows that school can be tough for kids. Having been through the rigors of school herself, here’s her advice for kids who are having a tough time in school:

“Stick with it. There’s growth in finishing something. Try to find something to connect with at school – sports, arts, photography, student council. Remember, we don’t all learn the same, so try not to compare yourself to others and maybe get off social media. I couldn’t imagine having that when I was in school.”

Now, people might be surprised to know that Sarah is an introvert. We all know her as an upbeat, energetic, and enthusiastic teacher, and while she is incredibly passionate about what she does, she admits that it can drain her battery. So, she emphasizes recharging and learning the value of rest, something that she believes is not something that’s earned but is essential.

When she’s not teaching dance classes for kids or holding yoga, creative movement, and acting programs, Sarah loves to go hiking and just being out in nature. She also loves connecting with family and friends, as well as cooking good meals, and of course, getting plenty of rest. According to Sarah, if she could eat only one meal every day, she would love to have her mom’s tuna casserole.

Playocity and The Early Stage Program

Playocity and The Early Stage Program

Alanna and Alena, the co-founders and owners of Playocity, are currently participating in the Early Stage program facilitated by the Parkdale Centre of Innovation. Playocity is a women-led start-up company that was created in the midst of a pandemic. It is not an easy journey, especially during the current circumstance, so the opportunity to join the incubator could not present itself at a better time.

About Parkdale Centre for Innovation

Parkdale Centre is a non-profit Incubator & Accelerator that was created to fill the accessibility and inclusivity gap to innovation, tech, and entrepreneurship, especially for underrepresented groups: women, newcomers, and those from low-income backgrounds. Playocity is honored to be a part of The Early Stage Program that supports entrepreneurs with a focus on preparing for user growth, team growth, revenue growth, and fundraising.

Alena Tuchina:

“We are so grateful for this opportunity to be a part of the Early Stage program and Parkdale Centre of Innovation ecosystem. It is very refreshing and inspiring to be able to learn and grow alongside like-minded individuals, entrepreneurs, and leaders, hear their stories, share ours, and just feel the support and encouragement from a group where everyone gets it – all the joys and challenges of running your own business.”

Alanna Budhoo:

“For me, the Parkdale Program has been a fundamental part of my journey as a business owner in an ever-changing landscape. I think it is really wonderful to know that despite the pandemic, Parkdale Centre has continued to support innovation, create a non-judgmental space, and help business owners from a variety of industries.

A feeling of togetherness is of utmost importance right now – and you can feel that if you are part of the incubator program. Knowing that others are in the process of creating their own paths and dealing with similar challenges, can be very useful, and listening to the stories of others is comforting and uplifting. I think that the fusion of this type of environment with business basics is a fantastic way to retain important information that is essential to, I think, everyone’s success.”

Our Thoughts on Helping Children through Enrichment Programs

Our Thoughts on Helping Children through Enrichment Programs

Enrichment Programs can Help Children Deal with Today’s Challenges

Just some thoughts and reflections from our team at Playocity.

Enrichment Programs Alanna Budhoo
People across the world are dealing with a global pandemic and overwhelming feelings of confusion and isolation, and we are hoping that our programs can bring people together and make a positive impact. Enrichment programs are an integral part of childhood and early learning as they can help children cope with real world issues they are facing today. Our goal is to provide a platform for children to engage in a way that is different from the typical classroom – challenging them in a fun and interesting way and encouraging  them to be excited about learning. – Alanna Budhoo
Enrichment programs Krystina Chabursky
I believe that the arts offer a unique opportunity for youth to find magic in the mundane, and turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Extra-curricular programs such as dance, drama, and music, encourage the development of social skills and provide different avenues to explore thought, knowledge, and feelings. Kids can become superheroes by make-believe and through movement, games, and imaginative play, build self-confidence and self-expression. The arts empower youth to exercise their creativity and explore new topics of interest that at times, like during the current global pandemic, might not be easily accessible to them.Krystina Chabursky.
Enrichment Programs to help kids - Asante Tracey
We live in a time like no other. More than ever, our young people have great and unprecedented challenges ahead; nothing short of the end of the world as we know it, in fact. And now more than ever, will creative, aspirational minds have the greatest impact on what is truly an uncertain future. Historically, the arts have fostered such minds, and our present era is no different. An artist’s mind flows like a river- freely, endlessly and completely; always in awe and wonder at the new ground it discovers. Creativity can come in all forms however, whether it be the arts, the sciences or humanities. Ultimately, creativity is simply possessing flexibility of the mind. Enrichment and extra-curricular programs impart the fundamental tools for building such flexibility. Bolstered by a growth mindset and co-operative pursuits, programs such as those offered by Playocity are well on their way to positioning themselves as the new standard. While these may be troubling, anxious and isolating times for some, they are also exciting and transformative times for us all. Amidst pandemics, racial injustice, political turmoil and environmental crises are voices; young voices rising loud and clear above all others. Voices of hope, compassion and a desire for change. We here at Playocity will strive to give those voices a stage and a mic. – Asante Tracey.
Enrichment Programs Mirka Loiselle

An education in the arts empowers children and youth in so many important ways. It encourages self-expression, curiosity, innovation … and, of course, creativity. Now more than ever, this world needs creative thinkers. We need people who can imagine beautiful and radical possibilities for our future, and who have the courage to manifest those possibilities in the world around them: through song, dance, images, and through the relationships they forge with their peers. I look forward to helping my students cultivate these skills, so that they can move forward into this challenging year with hope, confidence, and kindness. – Mirka Loiselle

Enrichment Programs Alena Tuchina

Thinking back to my school years, the happiest and most exciting memories are not associated with studying a multiplication table, or writing endless chemical equations. It’s the priceless experiences and discoveries born in the playground. It’s all the valuable lessons learned while making DIY costumes for a talent show, rehearsing choreography, or creating props for a school play. Today, more than ever, children need more opportunities to connect, collaborate, and have a feeling of togetherness. I believe our programs can help make a difference. Participation in fitness based activities and creative discovery will ultimately help kids to be more emotionally resilient and deal with many challenges they are faced with today. – Alena Tuchina

Enrichment Programs Orchid Chen

As adults, we are responding to this pandemic differently. Some of us with courage and compassion, and others with reasonable fear. I’m curious about what kids are thinking. If we can unearth their inner thoughts, we can help the next generation of leaders to become aware of uncertainty, and to respond with strength. Lively debates, “what if” scenarios, and multiple perspectives can foster empathy. Let’s give little humans an opportunity to have many thoughtful conversations about our current realities. – Orchid Chen

Enrichment Programs Bailey Woodman

Extra-curricular programs and the arts are the reason I am the person I am today. As a professional dancer, I have realized through the pandemic that no matter where I am – I need to dance.  Whether in my living room, an empty yet spacious Wal-Mart parking lot or a studio, dance is my fuel.  It has been the bright spot in my day for the six months and having a moment to connect with other dancers sharing that same need for joy gives me so much energy.  I have been fortunate enough to dance across the world and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that dance is a universal language that connects us all.  It’s organizations like Playocity that we need more than ever right now, wherever you may find yourself. – Bailey Woodman

Screen Time for Kids: Finding Healthy Balance

Screen Time for Kids: Finding Healthy Balance

What is the right amount of screen time for kids?

Even before we entered the uncertain times of the COVID-19 global pandemic, there were concerns around screen time for children. Global pandemic and physical distancing have had a tremendous effect on the community, work, family, and our daily routines. Technology has been infiltrating all aspects of our lives for decades, changing how we communicate, work, and learn. Now, we are using screens more than ever. We had to rely on technology to stay connected, distract ourselves from everyday stress, and simply keep functional. In this article, we are going to list a few simple things to consider when trying to establish a healthy relationship with technology and screens.

Use blue light blocking glasses

With the amount of time your kids spend in front of screens – whether playing games, watching their favourite shows or in their virtual classrooms, blue light blocking glasses are a must. They protect eyes from harmful blue light that can cause extreme eye strain, visual fatigue, eye dryness, and headaches. Sunlight is the main source of blue light and some blue light exposure is essential for good health. Research shows that it helps memory, improves mood, and boosts alertness. However, we are not supposed to be exposed to blue light after the sun goes down. With the use of technology we end up being exposed to artificial blue light after dark and that’s when it becomes problematic.

No screens during mealtime

Make it a new house rule to avoid screen time during meals. Use this time to connect with one another, check-in, have a conversation, teach, and learn. Each shared meal is an opportunity to strengthen family bonds.  It is essential to get accustomed to having mindful meals. This means eating your meals “distraction-free” – no phones, tablets, work, or homework during this time. If we are not fully aware of what and how we are eating, we are disrupting proper digestion and not getting the full nutritional benefit. So how do you make this transition? It is simple – juts sit at the table, notice how your food smells and tastes, and take your time. Eat slowly, enjoy every bite, and eat only until you are full. Learning to unplug and showdown during meals can dramatically affect overall health for the better.

Avoid screens at least 2 hours before bedtime

When the sun goes down, our bodies are supposed to start producing melatonin – the hormone responsible for making us less alert and eventually fall asleep. Before the invention of electronic devices and screens, the sun regulated our sleep schedules. Daytime exposure to blue light helps us maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Today, with too many sources of artificial blue light, we start experiencing disruptions to our usual circadian rhythms resulting in insomnia and daytime fatigue. It is very beneficial to start dimming lights and avoiding screens and electronic devices at least a couple of hours before bedtime. Instead, choose healthy and relaxing activities like reading, arts and crafts, or going for a walk.
 

Choose educational, age-appropriate, and interactive programs and apps

With the number of programs, games, apps, and websites available today, it can be overwhelming to find and pick out the good stuff. However, taking the time to do some research is really worth it. Look for websites and apps that focus on developing curious minds and making learning fun. If your kids are going to be glued to that tablet for hours, you might as well have them learning something. Here is a great resource for fun and free educational websites for kids.
 
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that everything is good in moderation. Screens seem to be a necessary tool and distraction during this time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be on our phones and computers all day long. It is ok to relax screen time rules now and then, but let’s focus on a healthy balance between using technology and engaging in healthy off-screen activities. Have a distraction-free family meal, go for a walk or bike ride, read books, and play board games!