Investing in our children is investing in our future, said Jennifer Story, a Leslieville-area mother who alongside Ward 16 Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher organized an impromptu rally outside Fairmount Park Community Centre Sunday morning.<p/>A parent of two sons (one of whom attends Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School and the other Bruce Junior Public School), Story said she's most concerned about the loss of recreational programming.<p/>"Reducing recreational and fitness opportunities for kids just doesn't make sense now," she said, pointing to increasing poverty and obesity rates in kids in recent years. <p/>Story is also against raising user fees as she said it would create a "tiered system."<p/>"Community centres are supposed to be an equalizer. They're a place where everyone can go," said Story, adding the projected budget surplus of $154 million allows for "room to move."<p/>"We're hoping city council will see the light and restore funding to the cuts. It's never too late," she said.<p/>The event was held to highlight the importance of maintaining programs and services for children in the upcoming city operating budget.<p/>Those cuts could include slashing swimming and recreational programs, closing wading and outdoor pools, reducing open times for local arenas, and eliminating funding for daycare and youth outreach services and student nutrition programs.<p/>It also served to launch Kids Count Toronto! (www.kidscounttoronto.ca), a new website for Toronto families involved in recreation, schooling, student health and nutrition, childcare, swimming and skating programs in Toronto. The volunteer group was formed in response to the 2012 Toronto budget process.<p/>Cary-Meagher, who represents 26 public elementary and secondary schools in the city's east end, said cutting programming will have a "huge impact" on children.<p/>She said moving forward with the proposed cuts to swimming programs is a big mistake, especially for wards along Lake Ontario.<p/>"Swimming is a survival skill," she said.<p/>"In Ward 16 (Beaches-East York) every elementary school would be affected by cuts to swimming programs."<p/>Cary-Meagher also expressed concerns about proposed cuts to student nutrition programs pointing to Secord Elementary School, which provides more than 200 children with a hot lunch each day.<p/>"The impact on their ability to learn would be huge. For some kids it's their only meal," she said, adding schools with nutrition programs already work hard enough to raise funds and land donations to keep the programs going as it is.