It takes a Peaceful Village

United Way after-school program makes huge difference in newcomers' lives

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Re Moon found a new home in the Peaceful Village.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2016 (2281 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Re Moon found a new home in the Peaceful Village.

Moon, 21, lived most of her life in refugee camps in Thailand before she came to Canada 10 years ago with her mother, four older brothers and an older sister.

When she started attending Gordon Bell High School, she was welcomed into the Peaceful Village.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Re Moon, 21, works with adult tutors and mentors in the Peaceful Village after-school program.

The main program of the Manitoba School Improvement Program — one of United Way Winnipeg’s core-funded agencies — the Peaceful Village provided Moon with a safe place to belong and meet people, opportunities to grow and a network of resources.

“Coming to a new country is difficult, and participating in a program like this you get to meet a lot of new people from different cultures and different beliefs, and you get to learn a lot of things from them. It helped me so much,” said Moon, whose father died in 2002. While her mom was able to bring six of her children to Canada in 2011, she sponsored her eldest, Moon’s brother, and his family to come to Canada two years ago.

Students can go to the Peaceful Village after school starting in Grade 9. At the centre — located at Gordon Bell — students work with adult tutors and other mentors to get help with their homework, go on educational and fun field trips and participate in projects that explore their artistic passions.

“Going there gives you something to do after school, and they take you to many places on field trips that might not be possible if I didn’t participate in the program,” Moon said, noting waterslides, movies and the Red River Exhibition were among her field-trip experiences.

The Village provide assistance and opportunities for newcomers such as Moon to adjust to life in Canada as well as offering various resources and supports for at-risk youths.

Moon said she learned to play the piano as part of her passion project, a skill that continues to bring her joy. She also made some enduring friendships.

“I met a student from the University of Winnipeg, and to this day, I still communicate with her. I say it is a true friendship. She helped me so much, and I still maintain that open communication,” she said.

By attending the Village, students can earn scholarships of $1,000 per year to be used for post-secondary education.

Moon, who attended for four years, said she earned $4,000, which covered nearly half of her tuition to earn a college diploma in accounting and payroll administration. She was hired as an administrative assistant by the Manitoba School Improvement Program.

‘Coming to a new country is difficult, and participating in a program like this you get to meet a lot of new people from different cultures and different beliefs, and you get to learn a lot of things from them. It helped me so much’ — Re Moon

“I say that I am so lucky,” Moon said, adding she plans to go back to school as soon as she decides what she wants to study. “I have so many ideas.”

Executive director Daniel Swaka said the Peaceful Village is one of five Manitoba School Improvement Program learning centres operated in school communities. The others are at Hugh John Macdonald School, Acadia School/Fort Richmond Collegiate, Glenlawn Collegiate and the program’s building at 357 Bannatyne Ave. He said about 600 students are served by the programs.

“We know that our newcomer youth really need that support, but our learning centres are open to all to come in,” Swaka said. “Our main goal is academics, but we carry that out with different strategies. We want our students to attend school regularly and we want them to build academic skills in literacy and numeracy, and we want them to build friendships with other people in their school and that sense of belonging.”

In its Three Years for a Better Winnipeg plan unveiled earlier this fall, United Way Winnipeg has committed to connecting 1,800 more kids with mentors. If you would like to help create more mentorship for kids, please donate to United Way online at www.UnitedWayWinnipeg.ca/give or call 204-477-UWAY (8929).

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Saturday, October 29, 2016 9:00 AM CDT: Photo added.

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