Government of Canada supports the health, well-being and school readiness of Aboriginal children

LETHBRIDGE, AB, Jan. 14, 2013 /CNW/ - Jim Hillyer, Member of Parliament for Lethbridge, on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Nunavut, announced funding for a project to provide a culturally enriched preschool readiness program for urban Aboriginal children between three and five years of age living in Lethbridge.

"The Government of Canada's Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities program is proven to improve children's school readiness and enhances their knowledge of Aboriginal culture and language," said Hillyer "By investing in this invaluable project we are helping to give children a good start in life."

Today's announcement will support the Opokaa'sin Early Learning Centre project led by the Opokaa'sin Early Intervention Society. This project seeks to enhance school readiness of Aboriginal children entering kindergarten.

"Children who attend this program develop a positive sense of themselves, a desire for learning and opportunities to develop fully as successful young people," said Tanya Pace-Crosschild, Executive Director, Opokaa'sin Early Learning Centre. "Parents and caregivers play an important role in helping to foster their child's health and social development by taking an active role in their education."

This project is funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada's Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) program. The program provides significant annual funding to community-based projects focused on early childhood development for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and their families living in urban and northern communities across Canada. Each year the AHSUNC program reaches 4,800 children who attend one of the 131 Aboriginal Head Start sites across Canada.


FACTSHEET

January 14, 2013


To promote the health, well-being and school readiness of Aboriginal children


Through the Public Health Agency of Canada's Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) program, the Government of Canada invests $32.1 million annually in 131 community-based sites focused on early childhood development reaching 4,800 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and their families living in urban and northern communities across Canada.

Opokaa'sin  Early Learning Centre Preschool Readiness Project

Today's funding announcement of close to $550,000 will support a project led by the Opokaa'sin Early Intervention Society to provide a culturally enriched preschool readiness program for urban Aboriginal children between three and five years of age living in the Lethbridge area.

About the Project

The Opokaas'in Early Intervention Society will:

  • Deliver a program for urban Aboriginal children and their parents or caregivers to attend four times a week.
  • Engage participants in activities to improve school readiness, enhance knowledge of Aboriginal culture and language, and improve health and nutritional practices.
  • Provide parents and caregivers with parenting support and skill-building information to encourage active involvement in their child's education.

Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program

The AHSUNC program was established in 1995 to support the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical development of Aboriginal children, while also supporting their parents and guardians as their primary teachers.

AHSUNC sites provide structured half-day preschool experiences for Aboriginal children focused on six program components:

1) Aboriginal culture and language,
2) Education and school readiness,
3) Health promotion,
4) Nutrition,
5) Social support, and
6) Parental involvement.

The Aboriginal Head Start Urban and Northern Community program has demonstrated that locally controlled and designed early intervention strategies can provide Aboriginal children with a positive sense of themselves, a desire for learning, and opportunities to develop fully as successful young people.

By addressing the general health concerns of the Aboriginal population the program's project sites have significantly benefited the health, well-being and school readiness of participating Aboriginal children and their families.

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada




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