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Our vision is to be a beacon for all First People living here now and into the future.
Our centre is part of a network of Early Childhood and Family Centres across Ontario. The AO Early Years and Family Centre is part of a proposed innovative hub for Indigenous lead and supported programming that serves First People, as well as the general public living in the Waterloo Region.
We have partnered with Waterloo Region to deliver our services and we are funded by the province’s Journey Together reconciliation initiative. Learning from the YMCA and other early years partners we are intending to reproduce common best practices while delivering life long learning opportunities and social space for families with a special emphasis on supporting those first few years of life. We will be focused on providing Indigenous lead and developed programs associated with traditional and land-based wisdoms and skills. We will be relying on the ongoing guidance of Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to deliver these programs.
Based on an asset model we are aiming our programming toward building spirit and fostering inclusive community. We are committed to engaging parents, caregivers, families and children to help develop meaningful, and lasting connections.
Interested in using our services or visiting our centre?
We provide services geared toward healing, wellness and empowerment for Indigenous families, holistic and inclusively for First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) in the region to learn, gather, and celebrate our shared heritage and our common challenges.
Our program provides child-centred, engaging programs and services for all children aged birth to six years of age, and their families. We deliver all of our programs from a holistic, Indigenous lead and focused pedagogy concentrated on providing a friendly environment that fosters learning, mentoring and development, and provides support to parents, families and caregivers. We are guided by the pedagogical document, How Does Learning Happen? which was introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2014 and focuses on the best practices in early learning and care. The four foundations of high quality early learning and care outlined in How Does Learning Happen are:
All of which our organization will make concerted, ongoing efforts to improve on, in each of our programs.
Moreover, we are guided by Medicine Wheel teachings known as Gifts of the Four Directions. This pedagogical paradigm engages the individual, family and community in a dynamic process that is focused on active engagement with these gifts, which include the ability to vision, the importance of caring and building relationships, as well as seeking knowledge and taking action in our lives.
Our programming is evolving from the First Nation Life Long Learning Model where supports for children include environment, educator and family. The spirit and intent of this model ensures the child remains the core and focuses on the role of communities of care.
In our service design we are also drawing from the Metis Holistic Lifelong Learning Model and the Inuit Learning Models to express the underlying philosophy and principals that inform our centres programming
We provide a multitude of free drop-in, as well as free registered programs for parents/caregivers and their young children.
FAMILY CENTER EVENT CALENDAR
PROGRAMS & SERVICES
Planned programs include:
- Parent Education Programs (connecting through baby massage, postpartum support, how to support your child in school, how to manage a crying child, getting your child ready for kindergarten, supporting a child with ADHD or FAS).
- Early learning and development
- Food Education (How to introduce solids, making your own baby food, raising a happy healthy eater, culturally relevant foods)
- Prenatal Classes
- Grandmother/Grandfather programs
In addition, we will also be supporting early learning and development through the following:
- Languages and cultural teachings
- Cultural immersion
- Grandparents program
- Land based learning
- Technology (Children and technology, online safety)
- Art based programs (Music, dance drama, visual art)
Open Since September 16, 2019
We will share our incredible journey here to building our region’s first Indigenous Child and Family Drop-in Centre.