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Avery Elliott (left) and Tegan Lethbridge practicing their drumming during the Aboriginal Family Centre’s programming in the Spring of 2018.
Avery Elliott (left) and Tegan Lethbridge practicing their drumming during the Aboriginal Family Centre’s programming in the Spring of 2018. - Contributed

The program manager of the Aboriginal Family Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is delighted that the centre has found a new home in the community.

The centre closed its doors at 38 Grenfell Street in September when mould was discovered in the building.

The move to the new location (49 B and C Grenfell Street) in October means the  centre can offer many of the programs it had previously offered.

The centre serves Indigenous children (Innu, Metis and Inuit families) from birth to six years. The children attend the programs along with their parent or caregiver, Goudie said.

The centre also offers a school readiness program for the children who will be starting Kindergarten the following year, Goudie said.

Unlike the other programs, the children attend the school readiness program on their own.

A drop-in program is also held every Wednesday afternoon.

Anna Goudie is the manager of the Aboriginal Family Centre program in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Anna Goudie is the manager of the Aboriginal Family Centre program in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“Any person who does not have a registered spot in our programs can always utilize the drop-in program which requires no registration,” Goudie explained.

Goudie added the centre also offers a dad’s program which encourages fathers to get involved with their children’s activities.

“We have an Inuit cultural worker on staff and she has an Inuit cultural program which includes drum dancing and Inuit songs. She holds three Inuit family nights a year. She also offers an Inuktitut course to parents,” Goudie said.

The centre also distributes Baby Boxes through its Healthy Baby Club.

While staff and families will miss the gym at the centre’s previous location, Goudie said, sliding, snowshoeing and other outdoor activities are planned for the children.

Great program, says parent

Perry and Kayla Lethbridge’s daughter Tegan attended the Aboriginal Family Centre from age three months to just shy of her fifth birthday.

Tegan participated in free play, learning and sharing circles, healthy snacks, gym time, craft time and reading time.

“At a very young age Tegan began to refer to the Aboriginal Family Centre as her school and her favourite day of the week was the day she got to attend school,” said her mom, via a Facebook Messenger interview.

Tegan began the centre’s school readiness program in September, 2017.

“While she still continued to attend regular programming with her wonderful caregiver, she attended the centre every Tuesday and every second Monday for the school readiness program,” Lethbridge said.

Lethbridge recalled her daughter’s excitement and nervousness on the first day while they both stood outside waiting for the bus to pick her up.

“By the end of her first day, all nervousness was gone and she couldn't wait to go back the following week.”

During the course of the year, Lethbridge said, her daughter was immersed in a routine similar to the school environment and was provided with many wonderful experiences.

“By the end of the year Tegan had learned to play the Inuit Drum, some songs in Inuktitut and could count to 10 in Inuktitut.”

She also got to go snowshoeing, visit to the library and play Inuit Drums at the local high school.

The program, which helped Tegan prepar for Kindergarten, ended with a graduation/celebration for the children where they proudly showed their parents, grandparents and caregivers the drumming and Inuktitut songs that they learned throughout the year, Lethbridge said.

“Tegan will have many educators along the way but we will forever remember and will be forever grateful that her learning journey started with the Aboriginal Family Centre and their exceptional staff,” Lethbridge said.

For more information on the centre phone (709) 896-4398.

danette@nl.rogers.com

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