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Communities and Friends Learning Together Program: Partnerships That Work

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

The ‘Communities and Friends Learning Together’ (CFLT) Program is a remarkable program that is making a big difference in the lives of students attending Morely Elementary in South Burnaby.

It is facilitated by Frontier College, a close partner of the Canucks Family Education Centre, and is offered to students between the ages of 8 and 12 who attend Morley Elementary – a school with a high population of immigrant students. Like many of the programs offered by the Canucks Family Education Centre, Frontier College’s CFLT program focuses on improving students’ reading and writing abilities while strengthening the kids' sense of community as well as at building positive relationships at school.

As the Youth and Childcare worker at Morely Elementary, Lana Horton knows the importance of connecting immigrant and refugee students to a safe and inspiring community like the one offered by the CFLT program.

“The idea behind the program was to increase literacy while creating an atmosphere where kids are attaching to positive adult role models who can show them care,” explains Horton. “A lot of our students in the program are either from refugee or immigrant families and their English skills are still progressing. Many of the children come from what was a very close culture of connection. The families come to Canada and it is quite isolated for them. We can build in a new connection place, and that’s very much a part of what we do at the school.”

“The CFLT program increases the number of positive relationships the kids have with adults,” explains Program Coordinator, Julie Ann Ames. “It is said that the more positive relationships that a child has with adults, the more likely they are to have success as an adult in society.”

“When many of the students start the program they are quiet and shy and don’t feel comfortable sharing their work or stories. Then there comes a point, a few weeks down the road, when the students become excited and want to share,” says Horton. “They feel safe and that tells me we are doing good work. The children are connecting and you begin to see an impact.”

The Canucks Family Education Centre recently ran the Families Stories Writing Contest and the CFLT students attending Morley Elementary were eager to enter the contest. Tyler Stiber is a writing contest runner-up and appreciates the opportunity to participate in the program.

“If you don’t read, you won’t do well in life,” says Stiber. “Reading is a big thing in life, and if you don’t read enough, you won’t be able to understand the words around you - what they mean or how to be able to pronounce them.”

For another student and contest runner-up, Muhammad Abasi, being part of CFLT allows him to grow as a citizen and as a learner.

“I love [this class],” says Abasi. “This program is a place to entertain yourself, show who you really are.”

With a need for afterschool activities and programs to occupy the minds and hearts of children during a vulnerable and important period in their lives, programs such as CFLT help to foster learning and creativity within a fun and safe group environment.

CFEC has a long-standing partnership with Frontier College, especially in developing and expanding CFEC’s largest and most successful literacy program to date: ‘Partners In Education.’

“This partnership has been successful because the relationship between the two organizations has been one based on mutual respect, understanding, and support,” explains Julie Ames. “The two organizations both have the mandate of improving the lives, literacy, and learning of others; sharing this central goal has been fundamental in allowing the two organizations to thrive together.”

To learn more about CFLT and Frontier College Vancouver, or to find out how you can become a volunteer, please email Vancouver@frontiercollege.ca

For the full story about all four Family Stories Writing Contest winners, and to see what great prizes they won, please story below.

Students Excel in Canucks Family Education Centre’s Writing Contest

By Jessica Prasad

In celebration of Family Literacy Day 2010, the Canucks Family Education Centre (CFEC), Canucks for Kids Fund, Word On The Street, Scholastic Book Fairs and CFEC’s many sponsors and partners launched Kids Corner by offering a “Family Stories Writing Contest” for children and youth. Kids Corner is a place for kids and about kids - a virtual learning site where kids can participate from school, libraries, at home, or anywhere in between. Many young writers submitted their family stories to the contest and prizes were awarded to the following young writers. Here are their stories…

First Prize: Blerina Rrahmani, Age 12
Blerina received a personalized Vancouver Canucks jersey

Hi my name is Blerina, here is my family story. I have five family members including me. My family members are: my mom Shpresa, dad Xhevdet, sister Dorina, and brother Liridon. My family is really special, the special thing about them is that they care about me, love me, help me, make me proud of who I am, and make me happy! Me and my family play lots of sports but the sport that we play the most is: volleyball. Me and my family like to play volleyball because we get to participate. I love my family, they are really fun to play with! My family likes to play lots of sports and all of them are fun. The most fun sport that my family and me like to play is dodge ball. I think that dodge ball is fun because I like when I win, which I always do! And I love my family!

Second Prize: Tyler Stiber, Age 11
Tyler received an official autographed Vancouver Canucks Hockey Stick

My family always celebrates Christmas at my great grandma’s house. My grandma and I always go ice skating. We even went skating on Grouse Mountain. I love the time I first went ice skating, I fell down and got my tongue stuck to the ice. About 10 minutes later, I finally got my tongue off the ice and hurt my mouth. But I still kept on skating. My grandma doesn’t come on the ice because one, she doesn’t know how, and two, well she’s old. My uncle and I love playing baseball. We once played with a small rock and stick.

Third Prize: Muhammad Abasi, Age 10
Muhammad received an autographed Vancouver Canucks Hat

My family lives in a house and we all like sports, and I have six people in my family. I have big brothers, their names are Shuihab, Ramin, and Mustafa. They mean a lot to me because they never leave me alone. They always stick with me. They are so special because as a kid it is hard to learn the rules. So they help me out. We are a part of a religion. It is Islamic, and we pray, and in my religion we pray and our family play sports like volleyball, but I now like hockey. It is really fun, I played golf before, and it’s just like hockey.

Fourth Prize: Mickey Fujiwara, Age 9
Mickey also received an autographed Vancouver Canucks Hat

My family member is my dad. His name is Yoshi, he is 43 years old. My dad and I play golf and bowling. I go bowling at New Westminister. My dad shows me how to bowl. First you put your fingers in the three holes. Second, you throw the ball slowly. Be careful, because if you throw it too hard, you won’t knock any pins down. If you throw it normal, you will get a strike. In golf, you will need a golf club and a ball. If you are going to a course, you will need a driver. If you get near the hole, you will need a putter. If you hit it too hard, it will go out of bounds. If you hit the ball into the water, then you might need to get a new one. I also have a mom and a sister. My mom is 42 years old. My sister is 3 years old. My mom helps me with my homework. My mom gets mad when I don’t do my homework. I help my mom cook sometimes, we make pancakes together.

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