So much of where life takes us is highly dependent on having a strong foundation in reading and writing. That’s where the Canucks Family Education Centre (CFEC) comes in, and this is a story about a gift the kids and families at CFEC recently received from two motivated students a few school districts away.
Armaan and Ameeqa Ali, sibling students from Mulgrave School in West Vancouver, recently initiated and organized a book drive in hopes of fundraising new and gently-used books to be shared with a school and community that could use the assistance. Right from the start, Armaan and Ameeqa knew they wanted the books to go to the Canucks Family Education Centre.
As it turns out, Armaan and Ameeqa were highly successful in engaging the entire Mulgrave School population to support this great initiative to reach out to kids in another community. In just two weeks, more than 2000 books were collected and by doing so they gave new meaning to youth leadership.
“This was really about bringing the community together,” explains older brother Armaan. “The response that we got was fantastic! What really stood out for me was the great community atmosphere and the learning we did together.”
“I think reading is the basis of everything,” explains sister Ameeqa, who just finished her grade 9 year. “It helps in your future, so that you can succeed in the real world.”
When Ameeqa and Armaan contacted CFEC to share their generous gift, CFEC’s Founder and Director, Jean Rasmussen, made the decision to share the collected books with the families at Edmonds Community School in South Burnaby – one of the satellite school locations that CFEC operates programming in. This particular community embraces and supports more than 35% of the Lower Mainland’s refugee population.
“To provide additional support to the Burnaby School Districts’ growing population of new immigrants, CFEC, in partnership with Edmonds Community School, began the implementation of the Partners in Education (PIE) program in 2009,” explains Rasmussen. “The PIE program provides a forum where parents and caregivers can learn more about their child’s school, the BC education system and how to strengthen and support reading and learning within the home.”
Burnaby schools reflect the increasingly global nature of the Burnaby community, with more than 4,000 students enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. A recent survey of languages spoken in Burnaby homes identified that more than 70 languages other than English were spoken in the homes of Burnaby students. Such diversity has brought rich cultural benefits to Burnaby's communities and schools. The district continues to promote the ideals of multi-culturalism through its established policies and numerous school-based initiatives, which promote cultural respect and understanding.
On June 3rd, with the help from teachers, partner organizations, and Canucks mascot Fin, the donated books were hand-delivered to the students and families at Edmonds Community School. Fin helped spread the joy of reading and brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of kids as he made his rounds from classroom to classroom.
“For the children and families at Edmonds to have the opportunity to take books home for the summer is important and very much appreciated,” explains Rasmussen. “They were visibly moved by the kind and generous actions of Armaan, Ameeqa and all the students at Mulgrave School.”
By a simple act of sharing, Armaan and Ameeqa Ali have helped make a difference in the lives of hundreds of families in a community, cities away from their own.
“The Canucks Family Education Centre is proud and grateful to work with these amazing kids as we look to the future and what dreams we can make a reality together,” says Rasmussen.
Story by Jessica Prasad