With emphasis on the importance of the early childhood years of development, members of the Early Childhood Action Coalition (ECAC) and Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee (RIC) are pleased to announce the development and promotion of a 'Children's Charter'. This Charter will serve as a foundational document as the partnering agencies continue to focus on programs and services that promote positive approaches to the early childhood years.
Back in May of 2012, the strategic planning committee of the Southwest RIC identified the early childhood years as one of their priorities moving forward. The RIC Executive extended invitations to a variety of stakeholder organizations with a vested interest in early childhood to join together in collectively promoting the importance of early childhood and developing additional initiatives to enhance the available programming for this target group.
These invitations resulted in the creation of the Early Childhood Action Coalition who held their first meeting in December 2012. Over the next several months, much of the Coalition's efforts focused on developing a 'Children's Charter' that would identify a series of values and priorities that would guide the future work of the Coalition. The document includes the following 'rights' of children in their early years:
- Right to Basic Needs
- Right to Be Safe
- Right to Overall Well-Being
- Right to Play and Learn
- Right to Belong
- Right to Be You
- Right to Be and Feel Loved
The Coalition includes representatives from Education, Health, Social Services, Early Learning and Childcare, and other community agencies as appropriate. Each agency or community group is asked to designate a representative to sit on this committee. Membership is open to an agency or community representative interested in issues facing young children from birth to six years of age.
Lee Cummins, Superintendent of Student Services, Chinook School Division and Southwest RIC Co-chair, commented on the importance of the Charter's development. "The Southwest Children's Charter, and related focus on young children from the Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee, is an outstanding opportunity for agencies, communities, and citizens to collaborate in shaping our future," said Cummins. "Research significantly identifies that reaching children at a very young age, providing supports and opportunities for learning, literacy, play and nutrition has a huge influence on them for the rest of their lives. The Early Childhood Coalition continues to build positive foundations and promising futures in the southwest."
"Our coalition is excited to launch the Southwest Children's Charter as a stepping stone for our work," added Lisa Kuntz, Student Services Coordinator, Chinook School Division and Southwest Early Childhood Action Coalition Co-chair. "We will continue to work together in raising awareness to promote positive foundations and promising futures for our children, families, and communities."
Elizabeth Laverdiere, Family Advocacy Worker and Southwest Early Childhood Action Coalition Co-chair, spoke of the importance of partnering agencies working together to benefit the children of the southwest. "The Family Advocacy Program strives to promote partnerships that support families with young children so they can have the best start in life," said Laverdiere. "This Coalition is an excellent example of partners coming together with a common goal."
Additional mini-launches of the Southwest Children's Charter are occurring in six communities throughout the southwest throughout March and April. The RIC encourages the public to attend these mini-launch events, which will target the heightened awareness of the importance of the early childhood years. Launches include the following dates and locations:
March 14 – 10:00am at Leader School, March 20 – 10:00am at Shaunavon Public School, March 21 – 10:00am at Pontiex School, March 31 – 10:00am at Gull Lake School, April 11 – 10:00am at Sidney Street School in Maple Creek, April 2 – 2:00pm at Herbert School.
Click here to read the Children's Charter.
For more information or to arrange for comments, please contact:
Coordinator, Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee
(Above Photo: Monique Massiah, Maple Creek News)