The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook
By Art Connelly
In the heart of Sarnia, the Radiant Community Centre (179 Christina St N.) is emerging as a beacon of support and education for families.
At its core are two remarkable individuals, Javi Aviles-Saez and Aidan Black-Allen, both seasoned Birth and Postpartum Doulas, with Aidan adding the role of an Infant Sleep Educator and Sleep Coach. Doulas are champions of physical, emotional, and informational support during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.
Armed with deep knowledge of physiological needs and the common challenges families face, they're on a mission to empower their community.
Javi hails from their native country of Chile, while Aidan made the move from Toronto to Sarnia during the pandemic. Their paths serendipitously crossed when Javi became Aidan's Doula for her third birth, a courageous vaginal birth after a previous caesarean (VBAC) that took place in the comfort of her home.
Together, they've embarked on an ambitious journey to create The Radiant Community Centre, a haven for reproductive health.
This vibrant centre is poised to offer a plethora of resources, support, and educational opportunities. It's designed to cater to individuals and families, with both free and membership-based programs.
Among the services offered are classes, clubs, an art drop-in for toddlers, space for children's birthday parties, and lounges where pregnant and postpartum parents can connect.
Birth learning sessions, infant and toddler sleep meetups, breathwork, meditation, and a lactation cafe for chest-feeding parents are also on the menu.
In recognition of the challenges faced by some parents, there's a dedicated support group for those engaged with the Children's Aid Society (CAS). The center will also provide assistance with navigating the CAS system. It's envisioned as a welcoming space for all, fostering intergenerational gatherings and building connections across the community.
But the Radiant Community Centre is more than just a physical space; it's a hub for education. The centre will host a series of workshops covering various aspects of reproductive health, ensuring that individuals and families are well-informed and supported throughout their journeys.
Access to these programs and services will be flexible, with sliding-scale membership options to accommodate different needs. This venture is a grassroots effort, built "for community by community."
Starting with the essentials, the centre hopes to harness the power of volunteers, rallying support from local small businesses and individuals who share their vision.
It's a testament to the dedication of Javi Aviles-Saez and Aidan Black-Allen, who are not only parents themselves but also tireless advocates for reproductive health and the well-being of families in Sarnia.
As the Radiant Community Centre takes its first steps, it's poised to become a vital resource and a symbol of community-driven change, lighting the way for families to thrive in Sarnia and beyond.
The centre will have its grand opening on November 3 2023.
“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.