LETTER: It takes a village to raise a child

Dear Editor:

I’m honoured to express my gratitude to StrongStart BC — an early learning drop-in program funded by the government.

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I became a new mother when I first moved to North Vancouver and lacked friendships on the North Shore. The early days of breastfeeding, endless diapers and sleepless nights left me confined to the house and — lonely.

I was in love with my newborn son, but a piece of me missed a part of my previous world — adult companionship.

I was happy to discover the local StrongStart program at Norgate elementary in my own neighbourhood. I brought my son, aged five months at the time, and met with Mandana Hezar, the facilitator, who welcomed me into her classroom.

A beautiful setting for children — with different areas set up for art work, pretend play, blocks and building, books and an outdoor playground.

I attended StrongStart Norgate on a regular basis, each time looking forward to a warm cup of tea and watching my child engage with the stimulating environment — and grow.

I was delighted to see my son socialize and sing the “Hello my, friends” greeting song in each of the several different languages of the cultures represented in the classroom during circle time.

Mandana encouraged me to conduct circle time occasionally — enabling me to use my Early Childhood Education background and become more involved in the classroom.

I met a wonderful group of mothers, fathers, caregivers and their children. We shared tales of wisdom, headache and heartache about the chaos and the joyful gratification of raising wee ones.

I consider a group of mothers I met through StrongStart Norgate among my cherished friends today. My son has also become “best friends” with the daughter of one of those mothers — since the first day he crawled over to see her.

Together we host play dates, exchange free babysitting, confide, share advice, dreams and fears.  We invite new families to join us at activities I organize throughout the summer to support our growing network.

My son will be turning five this year, and I believe that StrongStart BC, along with his part-time preschool program, have helped him prepare for success in kindergarten this fall. Thank you

StrongStart BC for enabling me to develop valuable friendships with parents and our children and build a strong sense of community, here in Norgate.

Mary Chang
North Vancouver

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