East Grande Prairie County
South Peace Area Rural Kids Early Development (SPARKED)
The East Grande Prairie County coalition took the lead in drafting a children’s charter for Northern Alberta. The coalition developed the Northwest Alberta Children’s Charter, which was adopted by all nine coalitions in the region. Since November 2013, the charter has been endorsed by 20 municipalities. The idea was to get municipalities to officially recognize children’s needs and rights as a first step in taking concrete action. This is in line with the coalition’s ongoing work to raise awareness about the importance of positive early childhood development.
One of the municipalities (Sexsmith) has taken this further by appointing a councilor to sit on the coalition.
Community at a glance
East Grande Prairie County has a population of just over 15,000 people. It encompasses ‘bedroom’ developments outside of Grande Prairie, as well as a number of small, rural communities. The composition of families differs, from farm to suburban, immigrant and First Nations families, and so-called satellite-parent households in which dads work away from home in the oil patch leaving moms on their own with the kids.
EDI baseline results
According to EDI baseline results, young children in this community are doing better than the provincial norm. Fifty-four per cent are developing appropriately in all five areas of development.
- Coalition meetings alternate between Clairmont and Sexsmith to make them as accessible to people as possible.
- The core group meets regularly and includes a good mix of parents and professionals. The group includes representatives from Family and Children’s Support Services, Alberta Health Services, the Child and Family Services Authority, Family Literacy and the local school board, as well as child care providers, kindergarten and preschool teachers, parents and community members.
- Families living in small, rural communities have to travel long distances to access supports and services. Many have to go to Grande Prairie.
- The coalition is not able to keep up with the many requests from different organizations to attend meetings and participate in events.
- Survey community resources: The coalition aims to gain a better understanding of the strengths and gaps in community resources. The goal is to complete at least 300 surveys, analyze the results and incorporate the findings into a report for the County of Grande Prairie, the City Council of Grande Prairie, the MD of Greenview and the Town of Sexsmith, to help inform their planning.
- Share EDI results: Preliminary EDI results, along with information about early development, were shared at community events, such as the Teepee Creek Stampede and the Sexsmith Winter Carnival.
- Encourage collaboration: Working on the coalition has encouraged greater consultation and collaboration among stakeholders. For example, the coalition is providing input to a local school district that is considering setting aside space for a day care in a new school that is being built in Sexsmith.
- Work with schools: Schools are community hubs in small, rural areas. By partnering with schools, the coalition is able to reach families, share information and enlist local support for its work.
- Link parents to resources: The coalition is putting together a community resource directory that provides information on existing programs and services for children and families and on early childhood development. It will be using template designed by the Camrose and Area coalition. This is just one example of the many ways in which coalitions across Alberta are sharing their ideas, tools and resources.
- Co-sponsor educational events: The coalition co-sponsored a workshop on brain development by export Dr. Robbin Gibb (March 2014) that was well attended by licensed child-care providers, preschool teachers and other professionals, as well as parents. The sponsorship laid the grounds for future partnerships among coalitions, school boards and other groups in organizing events in the region.
"Let us learn from the world around us. Teach us about things that live and grow around our homes; in forest and fields, in lakes and rivers, and in the sky. Help us play outside so we can safely explore and discover Northern Alberta."
excerpt from the Northwest Alberta Children's Charter
Updated April 28, 2014