Growing Great Kids
The Growing Great Kids coalition in Hinton has been working to engage industry and other major employers in supporting young children and families. The coalition has forged a good relationship with Coalspur, a company that is starting a thermal coal-mining mega-project in the community, for example. The company dedicated a page of its April 2014 newsletter to information about the coalition and has been posting messages about early development in lunch room areas. The coalition is hoping to convince the company to adopt family friendly policies for its workers, including time off for parents to care for young children at home when they become ill.
Community at a glance
Hinton is a town of 9,640 people (Statistics Canada, 2011) that is located east of Jasper National Park. Resource industries (coal mining, pulp and paper and oil and gas) are the major employers, which means that much of the population is transient and works shifts, especially those employed in the oil patch. Geographically, Hinton can be roughly divided into two areas: ‘the Hill’ and ‘the Valley’. Services are often duplicated in both areas to ensure that everyone in the community has access to them.
EDI baseline results
Baseline results show that nearly 30 per cent of kindergarten-aged children are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in emotional maturity and communication skills and general knowledge. Results were most positive in language and thinking skills, where 85.7 per cent of children are developing appropriately.
- It was fairly easy to bring representatives from organizations working with families and children together, including Alberta Health Services, the Parent Link Center, the Hinton Municipal Library and the Hinton Friendship Center Society, which already have a track record of collaboration.
- A number of resources are available for families and young children, including: good-quality speech and language programs, family friendly parks, quality day cares and four preschools.
- A core group of ten people, mostly service providers, consistently attend coalition meetings.
- Attracting more diverse representation beyond a core group of service providers and avoiding burnout among active, committed members.
- Raising public awareness about the importance of the early years and the role that the whole community, including industry, plays in fostering healthy early development.
- Developing concrete goals and an action plan to affect social change.
The coalition has worked with the Town of Hinton to create positive early childhood development and parenting tips which are printed on the pay stubs of every town employee and changed every pay period. The coalition has also engaged the town’s communication coordinator for assistance in developing an action plan and strategies to move things forward.
Coalition coordinator Caryn Lansing
- Key messages about the importance of early development have been created by the coalition. These are displayed inside public buses and changed every three months.
- The coalition participates in Hinton’s annual June Family Health and Safety Night at the local recreation centre, which attracts about 1,000 people from across the community. Members hand out promotional materials to parents and seed and soil planting kits to children while promoting the coalition and its activities.
- The coalition took a novel approach to raise awareness about the resources available in the community. Families were encouraged to take pictures of their favourite family friendly places in town and submit them for a chance to win draw prizes. The initiative was launched at the Winter Magic Festival in February (2014).
- The two local newspapers, The Hinton Voice and the Hinton Parklander, provide regular, positive coverage about the coalition and its activities.
"For some people it's a challenge to understand what ECD has to do with them, industry for example. The challenge is for the community to realize that everyone has a role to play in a child's life."
Joan Melvin, coalition chair
Please note community results for Jasper and Hinton and area have been compiled in one report.
Posted: June 26, 2014