In 2016 the Foundation began supporting a new program which, like the Kids First Program discussed below, aims to ensure that vulnerable and at-risk students have a successful school experience and become responsible members of their school and their larger communities: the “Brite 8” program at Britannia Secondary School (a small school serving a diverse population from the Grandview Woodlands, Strathcona and Downtown Eastside low-income areas of Vancouver). The Brite 8 program, in its second year at Britannia, addresses the difficulty which many of the students have in transitioning to grade 8. Challenges with this transition produce many disciplinary problems and greater likelihood of the students not completing high school. Read More..
The program trains senior student mentors to meet regularly with the incoming students throughout the year and engage them in different group activities. It makes use of the “Link Crew,” made up of youth from grades 10-12, who are each assigned a group of grade 8 youth, who they mentor and support throughout the year as the latter adjust to their first year in Secondary School. In addition to regular check-in times with the younger students, more structured monthly activities and field trips are organized by the Link Crew, which help create a sense of belonging and community among the Grade 8 students. This type of program has been shown through research to reduce the number of disciplinary referrals, suspensions, absences from school and drop-outs, and to help the Grade 8 students successfully navigate the entrance into high school, setting them up for success in later years.
The Vancouver School Board provides staff for the Brite 8 initiative, but funding was needed to cover the costs of training and speakers, field trips, food and supplies for activities during the year which make the program successful. The Soong Ching Ling Children’s Foundation stepped in to fill this gap for the 2016-2017 school year with a grant of $12,000. Because the Brite 8 program in Britannia is still in its formative stages, the Foundation also provided ideas on how to improve the program, and will continuously monitor its implementation throughout the school year.
STREETFRONT ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAM
StreetFront is a Vancouver School Board alternative education program based out of Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1977 by educators who wanted to offer a different type of school. The Foundation has been providing support to this valuable program since 2013.Read More..
The typical StreetFront student has experienced difficulties and hardships within the mainstream education system. High levels of truancy and classroom disruption usually lead administrators and teachers to recommend an alternative program which will offer more support and more personal connections. StreetFront caters to the Britannia catchment – offering services to the kids of the downtown eastside. Currently 85% of the students attending students are Aboriginal; 10% Southeast Asian and 5% Caucasian.
StreetFront approaches education with an emphasis on physical activities and outdoor experiences. Students are offered classes in Math, Science, Socials and English for grades 8 -10. In addition they have Physical Education, Outdoor Education, Planning, Woodworking, and Foods classes. The programme runs three days per week, with some students training for and participating in the Seattle and Vancouver full and half Marathons. They also spend approximately 35 days of the 190 school days in an outdoor environment - this includes the three four-day camp trips.
Basic funding for staff salaries are covered by the Vancouver School Board, but 85% of the costs of running the program still need to be fundraised privately. The SCLCFC has helped StreetFront to identify and fill gaps not met by existing funding. Examples include purchase of running shoes unaffordable for the students, without which they could not participate in the running program, and funding for after-school wellness/health programs to help relieve students’ stress and engage the female students more.
The StreetFront approach to education is nationally recognized as a leader in alternative education. Their unique approach in educational delivery has had tremendous success with at-risk youth. Here are a few articles that have been written about StreetFront:
Vancouver School Board:
The Globe and Mail:
HASTINGS SCHOOL AND KIDS FIRST PROJECTS
In 2004, inspired by University of British Columbia research that recognized the importance of after-school programmes for students, especially students at risk in the inner city schools, the Soong Ching Ling Children’s Foundation of Canada began providing ongoing support to Hastings Community School, Vancouver, British Columbia, an inner-city school with a diverse, multicultural, and large at-risk student population. This support was directed at delivery of two very important initiatives: the engagement of a multilingual family support worker and the Kids First after-school programme. Later, the support expanded to encompass two other inner-city schools with vulnerable student populations: Sir William McDonald Elementary and Tillicum Annex Schools.Read More..
Hastings Community School: Hastings Community School, located in the Hastings-Sunrise area of Vancouver, is one of the Vancouver School Board designated Inner City Schools, meaning that they are located in poorer neighbourhoods where students and families usually require additional support to reach their potential both socially and academically. When the Foundation began its support to Hastings School, more than half of the students were recent immigrants and spoke English as a Second Language (about 41% of the student population spoke Chinese as a first language); their parents also often did not speak English. About one-fifth of the students came from single-parent households, and many of the students’ families struggled with limited financial resources. As their parents needed to work, students often found themselves unsupervised after school, while living in a high-crime area. For all these reasons, these students were particularly vulnerable to experiencing severe academic and social challenges at school.
The Multilingual Family Support Worker
A 2004 fundraising dinner kick-started the Foundation’s support for Hastings Community School. With the monies raised the Foundation was able to fund the salary of a part-time, Chinese-speaking family support worker. In addition to direct funding, the Foundation has appealed to donors and agencies to raise awareness of this initiative, which resulted in generous donations from Gore Mutual Foundation and renowned calligrapher Mr. Yim Tse, and Federal funding from the Federal Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS ) initiative. New and immigrant families enrolling in Hastings Community School have benefited from the consistent presence of a dedicated family support worker as they are introduced to their child’s school programme, the Canadian education system, and into Canadian culture.
Support for the Kids First Programme at Hastings School
Hastings Community School offers a “no fee for use” after-school programme called “Kids First” for students attending the school. The purpose of Kids First is not only to provide recreational programmes, but also to provide activities that develop social skills and values, teamwork, good sportsmanship and conflict resolution. The programme helps students identify personal interests, talents and attributes--all crucial components of asset development in children. Kids First provides tutoring for academic support in basic curriculum areas. Other programmes, such as music, art, sports and dance, allow students the opportunity to explore areas that would otherwise not be made available to them. Students that participate in Kids First are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The programme provides supervised activities in the after-school hours for children at risk who might otherwise be left unattended. It gives children access to a familiar and safe place to develop relationships, take healthy risks, and to participate in activities that will support and encourage them to take control and direct their lives in positive ways.
As with the family support worker, SCLCFC has helped raise awareness and solicit donations from partners to help fund this invaluable programme. In 2005, through the work of the Foundation, the British Columbia Ministry for Children and Family Development (MCFD) provided some funding towards the operating costs. Mining giant, Teck Cominco, donated significant funding from 2006 to 2008. Other friends and partners of the Foundation that have made generous donations to the Kids First programme include John and Judy Taylor, Intact Insurance, the West Vancouver Rotary Club and the International Rotary Club. In fact Kids First was the first Canadian programme to receive funding from the international funding arm of the Rotarian Clubs.
Kids First Program at Sir William MacDonald and Tillicum Annex Elementary Schools
Consistent support from the Soong Ching Ling Children’s Foundation of Canada helped ensure the stability of the program in Hastings School. Accordingly, in 2009, the Foundation provided funding to allow the expansion of the Kids First Program to Sir William McDonald Elementary, and, until 2015, to Tillicum Community Annex, two other inner-city schools which badly needed this type of program. Due to the different student makeup and nature of these two schools as compared to Hastings School and each other, the Kids First Programme has been modified, with input from the Foundation, to suit the needs of each school. However, the constant in all Kids First programming is that through the programme, students are inspired, motivated, and taught the necessary skills that will help them to make positive decisions and live happy, healthy lives.
Sir William Macdonald Elementary is located at the corner of Hastings Street and Victoria Drive on Vancouver’s east side. The community is formed from a diverse population that includes many families of Aboriginal and Asian ancestry. The catchment area encompasses a variety of housing options, including single-family dwellings, rental apartments and socially assisted units. Census data indicates that many of the community’s families confront issues relating to poverty and underemployment. The school enrolls approximately 80 students from kindergarten to grade seven. Approximately 65% of the students are First Nations in origin while the remaining students generally have a Chinese or Vietnamese heritage. Approximately 54 % of the students are English as a Second Language Learners or English as a Second Dialect Learners and 30% have Ministry Designations for special needs. The school also has a large turnover of students, with families in temporary housing at times leaving the school with new ones enrolling in different grades, thus keeping the overall numbers of students approximately constant. The school staff is highly dedicated to the academic and social development of the students they serve.
Tillicum Community Annex (from the school website): “Tillicum Community Annex was built on its present site in 1966 and was named Hastings Annex. In 1971 it was renamed Tillicum which is from the Chinook trade language meaning "one's people" or "friend". Tillicum Community Annex is a partner in the Templeton Community Schools HUB and remains an annex to Hastings Main School. The school is situated beside Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, a long time community agency that provides service to children, youth, adults and families. Tillicum is a large annex of approximately 100 students from Kindergarten to Grade 4. The population is a typical Vancouver mixture of many cultural groups with a large number of ELL students and a significant Aboriginal population.”
Although Sir William MacDonald and Tillicum Annex schools enroll relatively small numbers of students, these students’ needs are relatively great, making the support from the Foundation extremely meaningful.
ST. JAMES MUSIC ACADEMY
SJMA is a non-profit afterschool music program for children operating out of Vancouver’s down town East side. The objective is to initiate social and behavioral changes in the students by increasing self-confidence, social skills and self-discipline through music. The Foundation’s partnership with SJMA began in 2013-14 which led to the formation of a new junior choir for children 5-8 years old from six local schools. This new junior choir was added to their existing one junior choir and three senior choirs. The children met twice per week and were taught by qualified music teachers.Read More..
In the fall of 2016, the Foundation decided to support a new initiative at St. James—a Marimba Ensemble program designed to allow “both younger and older children to quickly experience the joy and excitement of ensemble playing without the steep learning curve of other orchestral instruments.” Like other SJMA programmes, this one uses music as a means to promote improved social skills and academic success among children.
The St. James Music academy runs an excellent after-school program for children and its work is well recognized by the community at large. Its success owes much to a very strong and dedicated management team and its policy to hire competent and professional music teachers.
From 2013 to 2016, the Foundation provided $5,000 per school year to this worthy cause; in 2016-2017, it will be providing $4,000.
Core Afterschool Program of SJMA (excerpt from SJMA annual report)
- Safe transportation to and from the Academy utilizing volunteers and a van
- Daily nutrition by serving 450 meals a week, with nutrition time being a community time learning the right attitude to food and enjoying short recitals by professional musicians
- Music theory and rhythm teaching children to read and understand concepts in music
- Focus instrument lessons with children assigned their focus instrument on the basis of their desire, potential and need.
- Collaborative Music Making: SJMA has one senior orchestra and one junior orchestra as well as five choir groups. Choirs and Orchestras act as miniatures of community life, where not only music is learned but also social skills, teamwork, mutual report and respect. All children are enrolled in a choir or orchestra, or both.
- Elective component: each child is unique and SJMA tries to answer their need through the elective component based on their desire and potential.
You are encouraged to learn more about the St. James Music Academy through browsing their website: sjma.ca.
CONFERENCE FOR IMMIGRANT FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS—PARTNERSHIP WITH S.U.C.C.E.S.S
This conference grew out of recognition by the Soong Ching Ling Children’s Foundation of Canada of the challenges facing immigrant families who have children with special needs. In partnership with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. , the Foundation organized a one-day multilingual conference for those families, to help them understand services available and ways to help their children develop and thrive in their new Canadian home.Read More..
Canadian law and values recognize the right of all children, regardless of disability or special needs, to receive educational and other supports that allow their full social participation. British Columbia, like other Canadian provinces, has made great strides in providing resources to ensure the diagnosis, education, and social inclusion of children with all kinds of disabilities. However, many immigrant families are not aware of these services, or, because of the associated stigma in their home cultures, are reluctant to access them. The conference was designed to reach out to those immigrant families, to help reduce the stigma associated with acknowledging their children’s conditions and needs, and to encourage families to access available services for their children who need them. To better reach the immigrant families, the Foundation partnered with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. in the organization of the conference and recruitment of the families from different immigrant communities. The conference was attended by almost 100 parents and grandparents, while 78 children were cared for and kept occupied by volunteers. Many of the families were unable to understand English, and so proceedings were translated by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. staff into Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Farsi, and Nepalese. Feedback from the participants made clear that they had found the conference extremely helpful and informative.
FAIR PLAY BROCHURE TRANSLATION
Provided translation service for the production of the Chinese version of Fair Play brochure, a programme aiming at creating a community without bullying.
FIRST YEARS LAST FOR EVER BROCHURE TRANSLATION
Produced and distributed the Chinese version of CICH brochure First Years Last For Ever.
ROOTS OF EMPATHY MATERIAL TRANSLATION
Translated materials about the Roots of Empathy project to allow Chinese-speaking families to understand their children\'s participation in this programme aimed at building empathy among elementary-school children.