Building important connections with the HIPPY program

International program comes to Winnipeg

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/08/2016 (2294 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For new Canadians, childcare and education is one of many things new parents must consider.

To help make the transition a little easier, families living in the Central Park area can access the HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) program, which offers parents of three- and four-year-old tools and resources on preschool literacy and numeracy.

Come fall, HIPPY will operate out of Knox United Church (400 Edmonton St.) as a community outreach program of Mosaic Newcomer Family Resources Network. Co-ordinator Alana Garcia said it’s a much-needed program and one that will benefit the area.

Alana Trachenko HIPPY co-ordinator Alana Garcia hopes to connect with west central families who are new to Canada.

“It’s for parents who might not have had this kind of instruction themselves, so they might not have the experience or examples of reading with their child and developing reading skills and other important skills for kids entering school,” Garcia said.

The program originated in Israel over 40 years ago, and this will be its introduction to Manitoba and Winnipeg. HIPPY employs part-time home visitors who meet parents and go over the materials with them for free. They are typically bilingual, and can communicate with clients in their first language.

“It’s a really wonderful and unique thing about the program,” Garcia said. “If parents are part of the program for a couple years, the idea is they really build their skills and then we hire from our pool of parents.

“Right now I’m hiring a home visitor who will be Arabic-speaking, so I’m sure we’ll have a full case load of (refugee) families).”

Garcia said it’s an important connection for parents to make, particularly mothers with small children.

“The dads might already be in English class and the moms are at home with the little ones and totally isolated, so they come to this new country and they’re just in their homes,” she said. “They’re not connecting, not learning the language, they’re just alone.”

The reading and numeracy material is written at a Grade 4 level, and becomes a learning tool for the parents as well as the children. Even if they can’t read yet, Garcia said, the home visitor will role play with the parent so they can go through the process with their child.

The program is funded through Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and at least for now is geared towards residents in the immediate area.

“We’re trying to make it nearby so it’s walkable,” Garcia said, noting that not only is the area heavily populated by new Canadians, many of them get around the city by walking or public transportation.

For more information or to apply, visit mosaicnet.ca, email agarcia@mosaicnet.net, call 204-799-5588 or visit Knox United Church.

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