Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik January 10, 2017 - 8:30 am

Nunavik community develops after-school care program

“It’s youth that will organize it long-term and they’re really enthusiastic"

Puvirnituup Ikajurtingit, or the Puvirnituq helpers, are a group of teens helping to launch after-school care in the Nunavik community. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PIVALLIANIQ)
Puvirnituup Ikajurtingit, or the Puvirnituq helpers, are a group of teens helping to launch after-school care in the Nunavik community. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PIVALLIANIQ)

Over the last decade, Nunavik has grown a successful child care program, offering more than 1,000 spaces to pre-school-age children across the region.

But Nunavik has next to nothing in place for school-age children whose parents work full-time.

Pivallianiq hopes to fill that gap in one community—the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau-led vandalism prevention and youth leadership program has helped to launch an after-school care service this month in Puvirnituq, whose population is roughly 1,800.

“It’s a positive thing, for sure,” said Sarah Angiyou, principal at Puvirnituq’s Ikaarvik school, which has offered its gymnasium to host the new program.

“It’s not like 30 years ago when parents were at home,” she said. “Most parents work now until 5.”

While Puvirnituq’s Sarliatuvik and Arqsuivik childcare centres both offer 80 spaces for infants and children up to five years, there is no formal afternoon care services available for older children.

And that leaves a number of unsupervised youth in the community between the time school lets out at 4 p.m. and the time a parent returns home after work.

Audrey Morin, a street worker with Pivallianiq, already works with a group of youth aged 12 to 19 called Puvirituup Ikajurtingit or Puvirnituq’s helpers.

Morin is working with the same youth and a number of community organizations to develop the new care service. Over the coming week, she said she hopes to hire about 15 youth to staff the child care service, which will assign one caregiver for every three children in care.

“If everything goes well, we hope to start this in two or three weeks,” Morin said.

First, those caregivers will receive training, like parenting skills and First Aid, delivered by different community groups.

Parents in Puvirnituq should receive a form from the school this week, she said, with more details on how to register.

The registration fee has been fixed at $5 a day for the after-school care, money that will go towards snacks, programming and salaries for the caregivers, who will be paid $10.50 for an hour and half-long shift.

The new service will run at the school from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

“I’m happy that it’s [being delivered] by the community, for the community,” Morin said. “It’s youth that will organize it long-term and they’re really enthusiastic.”

Making peace in the schoolyard

Morin is leading another program at Ikaarvik school this year, this one targeting students in Grades 4, 5 and 6 in the school yard.

Over the last three years, Pivallianiq has co-ordinated an anti-bullying program which takes place during the school’s morning recess.

The goal of the project is to help encourage more cooperative activity and cut down on the conflict many teachers are reporting, including physical fights and damage to school property.

A lot of that conflict and frustration comes back into the classroom after recess, teachers say.

A group of Grade 7 students at neighbouring Iguarsivik school, who are called “Peacemakers,” lead various activities during the outdoor play time to help keep younger students busy.

In 2017, Pivallianiq hopes to step up interest among both youth and teachers by expanding the campaign to include discussions on the dangers of bullying and a poster campaign called Put Yourself in the Shoes of Others.

“When it’s working, it really works,” Morin said. “When I talk to some of the youth leaders, they tell me ‘I like working with younger kids,’” she said.

The youth monitors enjoy the relationships they make and the responsibility that comes with the work, Morin said.

The Grade 7 monitors are unpaid but they get free snacks from the school canteen and a short break before they head back to their own classes.

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