Success By 6 helps children succeed

Program provides early childhood education opportunities throughout B.C.

Success By 6 continues to provide early childhood education opportunities around the province.

“We want to educate the community with everyone involved at the table so we can make a better place to raise children,” said Lynne Reside, regional coordinator for Success by 6 for the region covering the North Okanagan, Shuswap, Golden, Revelstoke and Nakusp.

“Our main goal is to have kids ready for school through getting what they need in the first five years of their lives when they develop so quickly. Ninety per cent of brain development takes place by the age of five.”

Success By 6 programs, funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, in partnership with the United Way and the Credit Unions of B.C., provide a variety of community-based programs, including literacy, nutrition, children’s play, parenting skills development and cultural programs.

The local programs are a drop-in play group and lunch and the Mother Goose early literacy program for infants, toddlers and pre-school children. There is an outreach to the Punjabi community, and Lumby and Armstrong have developed programs for their communities. The organization is working on a children’s charter with the City of Vernon, as well as a strategic plan with the North Okanagan Early Childhood Development Coalition members to address community gaps in services for young children.

“Something we are currently concentrating on is public awareness of the need to reduce screen time and have children spend more active time playing outdoors. Parents tell us they love programs and the books and other resources we make available,” said Reside, who is enthusiastic about the a new project, The Backpack Kids, backpacks with dolls representing a variety of ethnic backgrounds with items typical of their cultures. These will be available at childcare centres and parent/child groups.

She sees a lot more to be done since B.C. has the highest rate of child poverty in Canada, and many parents of all backgrounds struggle with balancing work and family responsibilities.

“There are about 800 children born in the Vernon hospital every year so there is an on-going need for support for parents,” said Reside.

Last year, Success By 6 funded 646 early childhood development projects in 400 B.C. communities with the support of an estimated 140 local community planning tables.

Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development, said investing in children is a valuable investment.

“Success By 6 is a fantastic community-based partnership devoted to encouraging young children to learn, play and grow — with their peers and with their families.”