Chestermere - Southeast Rocky View Formative Five
Community at a glance
“Rurban” describes this ECD community. Rural and urban elements commingle as development pushes in and outwards. Residential and commercial zones with acreages, family and hobby farms, and rural industries co-exist side by side.
The community is split into two subcommunities roughly down the middle. The northernmost contains Chestermere, where most adults commute to Calgary for work. Young children and caregivers have the run of the town on weekdays. Nestled in the prairies, immediately east of Calgary, Chestermere was founded as a lakeside summer village and still retains old cabins and long-time residents. New suburbs are springing up with booming development. The population has more than quadrupled in ten years to 15,352 residents in 2012. The area also has a significant immigrant population, more than 16 per cent according to 2006 Statistics Canada data. Thirty-nine per cent of the population speaks at least one language other than English, according to the 2011 town census.
The more rural southeast subcommunity holds the hamlet of Langdon, which has many new developments. Smaller settlements, as well as acreages and farms, are scattered across this area. Each has its own flavour and sense of community pride.
EDI baseline results
EDI baseline results for young children in this community are generally above provincial results. Thirty-two per cent are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in communication skills and general knowledge, however.
- The coalition has strong representation from agencies across the region. Free child care is provided at meetings to encourage parents to participate.
- Coalition members were early enthusiasts and initiated contact with ECMap. Children are regarded as a high priority and members are ready to work on issues and use information to make progress.
- Service providers, who often compete for funding and clients, are networking and sharing resources and ideas. This includes preschool teachers and day care providers.
- Services lag behind rapid growth. Chestermere lacks health services (no hospital, immunization services, or health unit), and has few businesses. Langdon has few services and programs, and no day care. Smaller communities also lack services.
- Families have limited access to public transportation and accessing services from isolated areas takes more time.
- The coalition lacks representation from Langdon, rural areas, the business community and health-care providers.
- Tool kits for parents: 350-500 tool kits on the five areas of development measured by the EDI are being created for parents of children aged 3-5. The tool kits will provide practical suggestions and tips on how to promote physical health and well-being, social and emotional development and language skills and critical thinking through play. (United Way funding.)
- Professional development: Four, three-hour training sessions will be provided to preschool teachers and day care providers on meeting the emotional, social and behavioral needs of young children. Training will be offered through Hull Services, a Calgary non-profit agency that provides mental health and behavioral services for children and families. (United Way funding.)
Child poverty focus groups: Three focus groups were organized as part of the Government of Alberta’s community conversations to reduce child poverty. The groups addressed three topics: preschool teachers’ needs, community members’ needs around early childhood development, and poverty and its effects on children. Participants included staff from the Parent Link Centre and Chestermere Food Bank, child care providers, preschool teachers, business owners and community members.
- Community events: The coalition connected with parents by participating in ‘Energizer Nights’ in Chestermere. These events enable parents to see what programs and services are available for families and sign their children up for activities. Piggy-backing on existing community events helps the coalition to reach out more broadly into the community.
- National Child Day celebration: A ‘Community Playdate’ was organized at the Chestermere Recreation Centre in November 2013. Activity centres for the five ‘EDI’ areas of development were set up around the gym. Children collected stickers in passports after participating in each of the activity centres. There was also a play area and booths set up various service providers and agencies.
- Member involvement: Members who are not able to attend meetings are kept in the loop through e-mail as “associate members.” They can still provide support and expertise to the coalition when they can.
- Reaching decision makers: Key community influencers and leaders in government, education, health care and other sectors received the EDI results first to get them on board and ready to answer questions from the community.
The results provide us with tools and knowledge to make change. If you don't have information, nothing changes.
Tanya Galey, coalition acting co-chair and manager, Early Childhood Services
Posted: April 28, 2014