History of the Whole Child Program
The WCP (Whole Child Project) was initiated by Patrice Berrel, former principal of Whitehorse Elementary School in 2001, with the support of the Whitehorse Elementary School Council. This was pursued to address the need to better support parents in assisting their children within the school system. It was felt that to have a significant impact on children we must work to support the whole family to allow the children to reach their full potential.
Initially the target group was the downtown English stream families but within the first couple of months of the project it was recognized that the WCP should be available to any family living in Whitehorse. It was apparent that the WCP supports were very much in the interest of the community in general.
The WCP became a non-profit society as of December 2001. The Dealing With the Whole Child board was formed to provide for independent governance of the project. Initial members included representatives from the Learning Disabilities Association, Anti-Poverty Coalition, Health & Social Services, RCMP, Yukon Justice, First Nations, and school administration.
Our surveys, both formal & informal, have resulted in programming which was initially aimed specifically at helping to meet the needs of the downtown families, but our long term goal was one where integration of services would benefit all students and families of the school, many of whom come from outside of the downtown core as well as the Whitehorse community in general.
A larger movement to strengthen communities of which school-linked service delivery is grounded in the notion that all children and families can benefit from more comprehensive services and more responsive community institutions.
We started with free family recreation nights at WES were offered consisting of Open Gym and Open Computer Nights. Shortly after the Stone Soup Cooking Club was initiated, and thus began family directed WCP programming. Thanks to the wealth of community volunteers including a significant contribution by the staff of WES programming has continued to expand providing a wide variety of programs such as Red Cross Babysitters Certification courses, dance classes, stained glass workshops, scrap booking, literacy workshops, fly tying, annual gingerbread house building workshops, Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program, Parent-Child Mother Goose, National Family Week Celebrations, bullying awareness workshops for parents, internet workshops for parents, resume writing for parents, job skills training, and a variety of cooking workshops for both parents and children to name just a few of the offerings.
Partnerships with other community organizations included the Whitehorse Youth Centre in the creation of a mentoring opportunity for youth at risk with a local artist to create a mural for the exterior front of the Whitehorse Elementary building. In conjunction with organizations such as Many Rivers Counseling and Support Services supports for local families are strengthened the fact that both organizations can enhance their programming and the numbers of families they are able to reach, by mutual cooperation in presentation of programs and supports, as well as mutual service referrals. This is a win-win situation for families and the organizations.
In addition, the WCP includes the services of a full-time outreach worker for families effective our fourth year of operation. We have been very lucky to secure the services of Barbara Curtis who was initially a member of the WES School Council in 2001, a parent participant & volunteer with the WCP & ultimately our full-time outreach worker since 2004.
In the winter of 2004, the RCMP National Youth Strategy, Ottawa funded an independent evaluation of the Whole Child Program by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family from Calgary, Alberta. The Centre for Research Institute for Law & the Family also prepared a manual for use by other schools & communities based on the Whole Child Program in Whitehorse, in March 2005.
Thanks to the success of the Whole Child Program it was expanded to include a satellite program at Elijah Smith Elementary School in the fall of 2006 and another at Selkirk Elementary School in January 2010 and at Takhini Elementary School in 2014.
Thank you to our on-going core funding from the Department of Education!