Fall 2017 Newsletter
It was a little over a year ago when the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) released draft recommendations for the proposed closure of up to 28 predominantly rural schools, including Maple Grove Public School in Lanark Village.
These announcements made alarm bells ring across all of eastern Ontario, including across Lanark Highlands. Over the years, staff and volunteers of the North Lanark Community Health Centre, along with many partner organizations, have worked alongside the two primary schools in Lanark Village (Maple Grove Public School and Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School) to improve early life learning and experiences for the children of north Lanark and their families.
The Health Centre has and continues to provide a wide range of health promotion programs in the Village of Lanark to help children and their families practice healthy lifestyle skills, build resilience, develop an increased sense of self-efficacy and a stronger connection to others. Kids in the Kitchen, Breakfast for Learning, Healthy Active Kids, Roots of Empathy, Understanding the Teenage Brain, Families Get Together, Nurse Practitioner Screening Clinics, are a few of the initiatives that have helped the children of north Lanark get a good start in life.
The children and families in north Lanark face many barriers – due in part to our rural geography, and made worse by unequal access to education, social, recreation, and employment opportunities, across all age groups. Using data from the Early Development Instrument that measures healthy child development across five domains, (physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communication skills and general knowledge), the children in Lanark Highlands as a population (and regardless of which school they attend) are more vulnerable and at risk than their peers across all of Lanark County. The closure of Maple Grove School would have had potentially devastating long-term social, health and economic consequences for individual families and the community as a whole.
The proposed closure of Maple Grove motivated people and organizations (*) to mobilize and advocate to keep the school open and located in Lanark Village.
In the spring of 2017, when the UCDSB Trustees voted on a number of school closures, thankfully, Maple Grove was not included on the list! While this is GREAT and WELCOME news, our work is not finished! Because of the vulnerabilities that have been identified with the Early Development Instrument, the North Lanark Community Health Centre staff and the Board of Lanark Renfrew Health & Community Services will continue working with community partners and advocating on behalf of the children and families of north Lanark to secure the conditions that lead to their health and well-being.
Fall 2017 News Letter PDF download