6 Component Areas
Aboriginal Head Start programs strive to empower all those involved with AHS to increase control over and improve their health and well being. In many centres, a variety of medical practitioners volunteer to visit in order to familiarize the children with health care. Some programs offer speech therapy, counselling and physiotherapy for special needs children.
“While my youngest son, Zachary, was a student at AHS, his speech and language progressed rapidly.” – Glenna Johnson: Family Involvement Worker and Former Parent, Kermode AHS
“We have had a big success story at Little Moccasins. For many years, we’ve taken our Head Start children to Interior Health for dental and hearing check-ups and the speech pathologist there also works with some of the kids. However, there has not been an optometrist available there for years.
I called the Cariboo Eye Clinic and spoke with Dr. Lam, the optometrist, explaining to her the importance of testing our children’s vision as part of their preschool screening. She offered to book a whole day at the Interior Health office to see our morning class for no charge. Dr. Lam was overwhelmed to see how many children out of 20 children had problems with their eyesight, so she booked another two days to test the rest of the children in the afternoon program.
Six out of the 40 children had severe vision problems. They are now wearing glasses and doing much better at school. Dr. Lam is still seeing several other children for follow-up appointments to monitor their vision difficulties too.” – Ana Rawlek: Family Involvement Worker, Little Moccasins Learning Centre AHS
The goal is for all AHS community members to take actions that contribute to holistic health; i.e., healing on the spiritual level, as well as physical, emotional and mental. Some storytellers share lessons about personal safety and getting along with others. Others teach about traditional healing rituals, such as ‘smudging’ and teachings about the ‘four sacred gifts’ (sage, sweet grass, cedar, and tobacco).
“We do… the Cree language being the main thing, our traditional foods, medicines, I teach them traditional medicines, our drum, jigging… as much as I know, I will teach them.” – Leona Neilson: Cultural Teacher, Power of Friendship AHS
“Smudging is to clean our minds and our bodies from all the negative stuff that’s going around us, and what we’re thinking. That’s what the smudge is for – cleansing for the day, to help us have a good day.” – Willie Alphonse: Elder, Little Moccasins Learning Centre AHS