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Children receive head start
Early childhood education program underway in Wrigley

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, November 21, 2013

PEDZEH KI/WRIGLEY
A new program in Wrigley is aiming to give young children the best possible start in life.

NNSL photo/graphic

Elizabeth Moses, left, and Ryden Boniface investigate plastic bugs in the wonder garden center at the Healthy Children Initiative in Wrigley. - photo courtesy of Kathryn Scott

Since September, Kathryn Scott has been running the Healthy Children Initiative in the community. Three afternoons a week, children as young as newborns up to age six can come with an adult to participate in play and exploration activities at the trailer where the program has been established.

A vibrant and purposeful program can support children's development and give them a head start, said Scott, who previously worked in a pre-kindergarten program in Saskatchewan for 10 years.

"There are so many aspects that are developing so quickly in those years," she said.

Early childhood education takes a holistic approach that includes supporting cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development, said Scott. Working with children in this age group is something she really enjoys.

"I'm totally alive and I love it," she said.

Because of her interest in early childhood education, Scott approached Pehdzeh Ki First Nation last spring to see if the community wanted to develop a program. The band accessed funding from the territorial government's Healthy Children Initiative.

The intention was to give the community the opportunity to have a program such as this and see how it wanted to progress from here, Scott said.

There are eight families in Wrigley with children of the right age to participate in the program. So far, three families are attending regularly.

The program is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The hours allow young students join after school, Scott said.

In the trailer, different play centres and art activities have been set up. The materials provided are intended to be engaging and open ended so children can use them in different ways.

"Each child has a different way of engaging," she said.

Resources in the trailer include a kitchen centre, Play-Doh, musical instruments and lots of puppets of woodland animals. A collection of pirate costumes recently proved to be very popular.

"I just enjoy putting things into the environment and seeing the activities that comes from that," Scott said.

She and her program assistant Jodie Boniface also do story time, sing-alongs as well as provide snacks or cook with the parents. The program is designed so children can play with adult support, she said.

Scott said she is continually adapting the program to meet the needs of the community.

"It's all open to discussion," she said.

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