Meadow Lake summer program revived

by Sabine Gibbins

The dog days of summer are suddenly looking a lot more exciting for Meadow Lake and area children.

Last week, Meadow Lake city councillor Toby Esterby announced the city will indeed be facilitating a one-year-only summer program to compensate for the long-time Northwest School Division (NWSD) program, which fell by the wayside earlier this spring.

“It will be funded by multiple sources and contributions from throughout the community, but the city will be overseeing it,” Esterby explained. “The city will also provide free swimming at the Aquatic Centre one day per week for summer program participants.”

For many years, the NWSD hosted a community summer program for elementary school age children. Traditionally held at the various schools in Meadow Lake, the program proved popular with children and adults alike. Earlier this year, however, school division officials announced a new funding model and a subsequent lack of money for programs that do not fall within the board’s Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 mandate. As a result, the summer program was cancelled.

This decision resulted in a concentrated effort by concerned parents and residents to have the city take the lead on a new program. Before the newly formed Parents Advocating for a Children’s Summer Program (PACSP), as they dubbed themselves, could make a formal plea to council, however, efforts were already underway to see what could be done to address the situation.

During the May 14 meeting of city council, Esterby announced he’d been in contact with JoAnne Carter of Transition Place Education Centre. At the time, Esterby explained Carter was interested in sharing ideas on how TPEC’s Addressing Barriers to Learning and Employment (ABLE) program could potentially help facilitate a summer program this year. Last week, he confirmed Carter would be leading the program on the city’s behalf.

“It’s all taking shape as we speak, with further details expected to be announced in the coming weeks,” Esterby said.

“JoAnne and her crew have been given the go-ahead … it will be a six-week program, and they will be coming out with a list of activities and locations.”

PACSP member Josey Loughins said the news of a temporary summer program this year is welcomed.

“It’s a really good temporary solution,” she said. “But, I’m really hopeful the city will step up and organize a permanent program.”

Loughins added she was a bit surprised to hear the news considering her group believed there was no feasibility to organizing such a program.

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