$30K in gov’t funding supports Success By 6 program

Mary McNeil made a stop at the Marie Sharpe Elementary School library to announce $30,000 in new government funding for Success by 6

Amidst the tour of the region by various cabinet ministers Monday and Tuesday, Mary McNeil, minister of children and family development, made a stop at the Marie Sharpe Elementary School library to announce $30,000 in new government funding for Success by 6 in Williams Lake.

“Today is a celebration of the collective dedication of Success by 6 and what communities can do when they collaborate,” McNeil said.

Through the program children from birth to age six develop emotional, social, cognitive and physical skill they need before they enter school.

“One of the things that research has shown is that children start developing right away and the more we can do to recognize if there are any issues or there are strengths let’s take a look at them early and start working with the children,” McNeil said.

McNeil admitted it’s hard to measure the impact the Success by 6 programs have had in the province because if you can catch things early you can have better outcomes, but you don’t necessarily know what the outcome would have been otherwise. “We’ve been in this since 2003 and are better now than we were then, so let’s keep tracking as much as we can. We know we’ve had huge success and kids are getting into school stronger,” McNeil said, adding she thinks full-day kindergarden has shown that kids are ready for school earlier.

Success by 6 hasn’t been a hard sell to the rest of government because it’s adding literacy skills that provide necessary strength to the province’s citizens.

“A lot of my colleagues see troubles down the line that could have been prevented had we done more at the start. I think this is one area that we really do all agree that it’s important,” McNeil said.

Locally Success by 6 funding has helped with Family Literacy Day, Children’s Festival, nature programs for preschools, and Ipads and portable speakers for children with speech and language delays.

Williams Lake & District Credit Union regional manager Arla Driver said the credit union is proud to be part Success by 6 and sees it as a natural fit for B.C.’s credit unions.

“We have always been actively involved in making investments in community programs that support our members and the community as a whole. The strength of Success by 6 is our partnership model at the community level and at the provincial level,” Driver said, adding the ministry, credit unions, United Way, and aboriginal partnerships each contribute knowledge and expertise.

Marie Sharpe Elementary School principal Elaine Elliott explained through the partnership the school has with Big Brothers and Big Sisters Canada in Williams Lake, teenaged mentors have come into work with younger children for the last 16 years.

“Success by 6 has contributed to that partnership by funding some of the tools such as games and materials that are used with our kindergarden students,” Elliott said.

Kindergarden teacher Tanya Isnardy says she applied for funding to Success by 6 for Ipads and apps for two autistic children in her classroom.

“We’ve been given funding to purchase two Ipads and an amazing program called Proloquo2go to help these kids to communicate. They are two beautiful girls and their progress has been substantial and I’m really excited to see where it takes them,” Isnardy said.