Discovering West Edmonton Coalition
Edmonton West includes many of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods and some of the poorest. The coalition divided its seed grant funding among eight projects in order to meet the varying needs of its diverse community. One of the projects researched the needs of immigrant families. The Multicultural Health Brokers identified participants and partnered with the Jasper Place Child and Family Resources Center and the Community-University Partnership(CUP) at the U of A to carry out the research. Three “Seeds of Connection” events were subsequently organized in 2013 to introduce immigrant families to service providers in the community.
Community at a glance
EDI baseline results
- The coalition is committed and will continue to meet regardless of funding.
- Funding smaller projects allowed each subcommunity to be creative and think of ideas that the coalition wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
- Diverse perspectives are represented on the coalition, including the Parent Link Centre, Alta Care Resources (an agency serving youth and their families),the Edmonton Public Library, Community Options, West Meadows Baptist Church, Health for Two West Edmonton and local parents.
- The coalition learned a great deal from a 2005 pilot project that involved Lymburn, a neighbourhood southwest of West Edmonton Mall. Lymburn was one of 29 Edmonton neighbourhoods to participate in the Early Childhood Development Community Mapping Project. The Lymburn coalition had great success using Appreciative Inquiry (first developed in 1987 in the U.S. as a positive, asset-based approach to organizational development). The coalition continued to take this approach, asking residents to focus and build on their community’s strength. While attending community events, like the farmers’ market in Callingwood, for example, coalition members would ask parents appreciative questions such: “Where is a place you enjoy taking your children in West Edmonton?” This approach has encouraged more people to become involved with the coalition and has built more positive feelings towards the community.
- The loss of funding for a coordinator means that time-consuming administrative responsibilities have to be taken on by coalition members.
- Explaining the different developmental areas measured by the EDI in a meaningful way to parents was an interesting challenge.
- Funding individual projects required extra work from subcommunities in submitting proposals and assuming responsibility for projects.
- The focus on smaller projects ensured that each subcommunity could define its own needs and address these in a creative, relevant way. Out of 11 proposals submitted, eight were approved. Projects ranged from community events where information about the different areas of developmental was shared with families to one research project looking at the needs of immigrant families and another research project exploring the needs of single parents.
- Hands-on activities were created to explain the five core areas of development to parents. An event held at one community league, for example, used an obstacle course, a dress-up station and gardening to explain and allow adult and child participants to experience different areas of development.
- Educational sessions on the use of technology were organized in response to parental interest expressed in the topic. Two sessions were organized in October 2013, featuring Cris Rowan, a B.C.-based expert on the impact of technology on children’s development, behavior and learning. Additional information was later e-mailed to participants.
- Discovering West Edmonton posters and brochures were developed and distributed at different events and through coalition members.