I was asked the following three questions by the SE Edmonton Early Childhood Community Coalition and I thought I would also share my answers here. I have written extensively about seniors and I figured that this was a good opportunity for me to articulate my thoughts on early childhood development.
How will you support Council’s current initiatives focused on young children and their families?
I believe there is still room for growth in Council’s well-intentioned initiatives. Moms and dads may require guidance on how to become effective mothers and fathers, especially if their own parents missed the mark on them. This starts with healthy pregnancies and follows through to the early years. It is not the place of a government to tell parents what to do, but a host of supports should be available for those seeking assistance.
As parents are the most important role models in the lives of their children, the City should do what it can to strengthen the family unit and build capacity for success, including by bringing awareness to the existing programs available. The home is the first location of education. I would like to create a situation where more and more strong families produce school-ready children. When children are school-aged, it is beneficial to their development if they already have a strong base in values, morals, manners and socialization so that their young minds are ready for a positive school experience.
If elected, how will you champion the Early Years in your governance work on Council?
Many families in Edmonton are burdened by the economic situation in Alberta, rising property taxes in Edmonton, and lack of local recreational opportunities. Edmonton City Council has had a downtown focus at the expense of suburban areas. I believe that the North Side is neglected. Lack of community-focus has impacted our children. The earlier you support a child with a healthy foundation of learning, the more likely they are to carry that success into later years.
I work for Edmonton Public Schools and my wife is a teacher who has won two awards for excellence in the classroom. If elected, I will consult with educators, social workers, and healthcare providers to understand the full role that Council can play with Early Years. I also respect the various levels of government and I will consult with the elected school board trustees, even though this is not strictly a school issue. I think that City Councillors should stick to their level of jurisdiction as much as possible and work alongside school boards, as required. In order to effectively serve the community, City Councillors need to collaborate with subject matter experts.
Do you have any new or different initiatives to propose that will improve the early childhood development results for young children? If so, what are they?
Yes. The City needs to work closer with school boards to understand the unique educational challenges that children face when they enter the formal education system, in Kindergarten. Too often I have seen school boards being ignored by the City when there is a wealth of knowledge that can be shared by each level of government.
I also believe that recreational and sport opportunities should be easily accessible in local communities. If this means we have to spend a little less on downtown development, then so be it. I write about this extensively in my blog. I am happy to invest in our children to help them reach their full potential. I am open to collaborating with various youth groups to develop action plans. I am happy to see that the SE Edmonton Early Childhood Community Coalition (SEEECCC) exists with strength. Anecdotally, I often see South Side parents form playground fundraising Facebook groups prior to a school being constructed. This rarely happens on the North Side. Perhaps on the North Side we need to help parents organize and reap the benefits of a strong civil society. I am ready to start the conversation and advocate for equality on the North Side of Edmonton as it relates to the early years of childhood development. I look forward to working with North Central coalition.
Do you agree with my answers to these questions? Please let me know.
Do you want to support my campaign? I am looking for volunteers and donors.
North Side Journal
The picture is from me volunteering with the Military Family Resource Centre, a group that I frequently volunteer for. I was assisting young children with an obstacle course on the occasion of the Invictus Games ‘torch’ coming through Edmonton.