It’s not always easy raising a child on Longboat Key, where the median age is 71 years old. But Elise Kidd Slansky is making an effort to create a strong network of young families.
Kidd Slansky, 37, moved to Longboat Key with her husband about three years ago, before she had her daughter, Blaire.
Originally from Chicago, Kidd Slansky had been vacationing on Longboat Key for years. In fall 2020, a month's vacation turned into a five-month stay, and ultimately led to the decision to buy a house on the island.
Now, with a 16-month-old daughter, she is running a Facebook group called Longboat Key Moms (& Dads). She said the group had been dormant for some time before she requested to be an admin and reignite it.
Currently, the group has 40 members. Parents of kids of all ages are a part of the group that she uses mainly to promote community events.
Kidd Slanksy knows there are more families on the island she hasn’t reached yet, and is trying to spread the word to grow the network.
“I think there’s so many things we can do, we just have to be creative,” she said. “It’s slow going because everyone’s busy and a lot of the moms are working like me, but I’m working on it.”
She’s also been working to create local opportunities for kids to get involved in the community. She organized a fire department tour for children this coming January, and is working on possible events with the police department and Longboat Key Garden Club.
There’s also the Little Free Libraries located at Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park that Kidd Slansky said she’s been trying to fill.
“I just want there to be opportunities where the kids can get involved in the community and feel like they’re doing something,” Kidd Slanksy said.
Kidd Slansky works full-time, and one of the most difficult aspects she’s encountered is finding childcare and nannies willing to travel to the island.
“Childcare is big; it’s a constant struggle,” she said. “It’s also just something that is like piecing together a puzzle.”
Other factors, like finding a pediatrician, are things that just take some work to figure out.
Kidd Slanksy said she wishes Longboat Key had events similar to Partners in Play, which is a collaboration with the library system. One of the main hindering factors, she said, is trying to find a space to bring those opportunities to Longboat Key.
But one event Kidd Slansky regularly attends is the children’s storytime when Sarasota County brings the Pop-up Library to the area around the Longboat Key Library.
Another sign of hope Kidd Slansky sees is the Whitney Plaza Community Center. The future public library as a part of phase three of the Town Center project could also provide more space for similar events.
Kidd Slansky is full of ideas. Art classes, tumbling lessons, kids yoga and expanding opportunities with local groups like Longboat Key Turtle Watch are all viable in the future, she thinks.
“I don’t think things need to be fancy or expensive,” Kidd Slansky said. “I just want to have a way to build a community and create a place where people want to come and want to raise their family and see that it’s possible.”