The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre has been visiting communities in the southwest this summer through a program it hopes will help engage children in their new environments.
The program, which is funded through the Settlement Worker in Schools Program, looks to help transition children into their new setting by showing them what the communities have to offer.
“We work with our clients that are placed in the school, as well as their parents, and help transition them into the local community and the school," explained Rebecca Anderson, a Settlement Worker in Schools with the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre. "As part of that effort, we often hold programs like this one over the summer months.”
The program, which runs for five weeks, is being offered in the communities of Shaunavon, Maple Creek and Swift Current this summer.
The activities are held in Shaunavon every Wednesday. The first session was held July 7.
The program also runs in Maple Creek on Fridays, and Swift Current on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Shaunavon participants toured the exhibits at the Grand Coteau Culture and Heritage Centre on the first day of the program, and then wrote letters to the residents at Avondale Place.
“The kids got a chance to mail their letters and then also took a tour of Canada Post to see how the mail system works,” said Anderson.
On July 14, the kids enjoyed a tour of the ambulance garage at the healthcare centre, and then got to see some fire trucks and emergency vehicles at the Shaunavon Fire Hall in the afternoon.
“The kids are having a blast so far and keeping us very busy,” joked Anderson.
Anderson emphasized that this type of exposure is important for the kids.
“So many of our newcomers come here from very different experiences," she said. "Services like the mail system, or the fire and ambulance services, can sometimes be very similar, but they can also be very different depending on what country they came from.”
“And sometimes there can be some history of adverse experiences where we're trying to build new relationships,” she added.
The Newcomer Welcome Centre is partnering with the Grand Coteau Culture and Heritage Centre in Shaunavon to deliver the program. The Centre also provides the group with a place to do other activities throughout the day.
“As far as the partnership goes, it's been great," said Anderson. "We have worked with them quite a bit in the past and it's always positive. They are giving us one of the rooms in the basement to be able to use as our home location, and they have also given us the use of summer students to help with the program. That's been great.”
Over the next three weeks the group is planning on visiting the Library, Food Bank, Town Hall, the RCMP depot, the swimming pool and the park.
The children taking part in the Shaunavon program included participants from Filipino, South African and Korean backgrounds.
The summer day camps are possible through funding from the Community Initiatives Fund.
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard