Local families can access many streams of solid support via the Stettler and Area Family Resource Network.
“We’ve been operating in the community for a number of years – we held the contract for Parent Link and then for Healthy Families home visitation program for a number of years,” said Lisa Tait, Stettler and Area Family Resource Network coordinator for the Central Region.
In April of 2020, however, funding for those programs came to an end in favour of Family Resource Networks which are a provincial initiative.
“It’s goal is to make sure that all communities and all families are served – not just pockets here and there. Here, we encompass the County of Stettler, County of Paintearth and other areas so we go pretty much to the border,” she said, adding that the main office is located here in Stettler.
“As the family resource hub, we have a number of different programs housed under us, but generally our mandate is to provide services in the domains of child development and well-being, caregiver capacity giving, and then social connections,” she said, adding that team members focus on kids up to 18 years of age and their caregivers.
And although the Network has been up and running since April of 2020, due to COVID-19 their doors haven’t been open – even though the services have been in place.
So with restrictions lifting, Tait said in some ways, it feel like the facility is really launching now.
“We are really excited to be offering programs,” she said, anticipating the busy months ahead as society ‘normalizes’ again.
These days, they are partnering with the Stettler Agricultural Society and the Stettler Library on a program called ‘Market Buds’ at the weekly farmer’s market, which helps introduce youngsters to various foods and how they are grown.
There are also outdoor games, treasure hunts, storytelling, interactive games and seed-planting.
“Social connections are a big part of our work. We have such a healthy agricultural community, and at the same time, if you walk around the Stettler Farmers’ Market there are vendors from a lot of different places. There is so much variety. So introducing kids to the possibilities of what’s out there is great.
“And the entrepreneurial aspect is really good, too – empowering kids to make choices that they’ve never had any experience with.”
They are also partnering with AHS and CARS (Caring and Resilient Youth) on the ‘Move Your Mood’ program.
“Move your Mood is based on using physical activity to affect and change mental health,” she explained, adding there are also mindfulness and healthy eating components to the program as well.
“It has really interactive, fun and engaging activities for kids and families,” she said. “They have found through research, that even incorporating of just 15 minutes of being active or doing something mindful affects mental health in a really great way.”
Move your Mood will run over a four-week period this summer.
“We will hopefully be running a full session in the fall, too.”
Looking ahead, Tait said Network staff are excited about the array of parenting programs that will also soon be available.
“We’ve held them online, but in the fall we are hoping to do some really great, in-person parenting programs,” she said. There is also a prenatal class in the works, too.
She added that they were fortunate to be able to retain some staff from their Parent Link and Healthy Family days. This has helped further build bridges in the community as a new organization.
“I love being able to work with families and see them grow and reach their potential,” she said of what inspires her in her day-to-day work.
“And working with the organizations in Stettler and collaborating with them – I really feel that sense of community. And there are so many people in our community who have an interest in helping, and in improving the quality of life in Stettler as well.”
The strengths of her staff continually shine through as well.
“We have people certainly from a social work background, and also from an early childhood background, too. We have teachers and nurses – just such a wide range and I think that it really benefits our practices to have so many areas to pull from,” she explained. “Everyone has different strengths that we can share and utilize.
“Essentially, what it all comes down to is that there is always support available. As dark or as hopeless as things might be, you can reach out to us and there will always be someone to help to support you.”