The ENRICH Project
Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve is one of the ten largest First Nations communities in Canada. It is located on the east side of Manitoulin Island, and home to approximately 3,030 band members living on reserve. Approximately one third of the residents are under the age of 18 years of age. Wikwemikong faces many of the same challenges as other First Nations communities. However, they are proud to be one of 46 communities recognized by the Province as a Youth Friendly Community. They are focused on reducing the quality of life gap that exists within First Nations communities and the rest of Canada. They are determined to establish a new path for today’s children and generations to come.
Every child deserves a chance to be the best they can be. Historically, children on Canada’s First Nations Reserves have not always been given that chance. Even though education is the best way for Indigenous children to improve their quality of life, a study released in 2012 by a national panel on First Nations’ education system, gave the system a failing grade. To this day, First Nations education has been significantly underfunded compared to provincially funded schools. Our idea will give indigenous students in Wikwemikong, ON the urgent tools and opportunities they need to succeed.
Our idea is entitled the “ENhancing on-Reserve Indigenous Children’s’ Health and Learning” (ENRICH) project. ADRA Canada, in partnership with the Pontiac School and IGNITE Infrastructure Assn Inc, will invest in the long-term potential of the 195 First Nations children (grades 4-8) at the Pontiac School in Wikwemikong. The ENRICH project will promote an environment for positive change by creating a specially designed multi-sensory room at the school as a teaching and therapeutic environment for special needs students, create maker space labs within the classrooms as a teaching environment that encourages hands-on learning and exploring, and provide sports equipment to replace some of the older equipment that needs updating to encourage healthy, active lifestyles.
A sensory room is a specially designed space that can meet a variety of sensory needs through beautiful lighting, relaxing music, and textured objects. It can be used as a therapy for a variety of diagnosis, ages and abilities. For example, sensory rooms have been successfully used to engage children with Mild to Profound Learning Difficulties, Dyslexia, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Autism, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The sensory room may be used for many different purposes including relaxation, de-escalation, gross motor skill development, life skills development, and language development. Students with special needs at the Pontiac School would greatly benefit from the techniques that multi-sensory learning offers.
Maker space labs, also known as 21 century learning environments, are spaces where students can come together to work on projects using various materials and technologies from 3D printers and laser cutters to sewing machines and Legos. Schools are using Maker Space labs to engage students who may not normally be interested in learning science, technology, math and arts in a formal classroom setting, but are interested in learning these subjects in a fun, hands on environment. Creating Maker Space Labs in classrooms will inspire students, prepare them for future employment, and build their confidence to face day to day life challenges.
Many of the students at the Pontiac School have an abundance of energy that needs to be captured. The school currently provides them with a program that starts their day with exercise. The program also works as a support to encourage students to arrive on time. Our plan is to provide new gym equipment to help support the school’s sports teams and encourage daily, healthy, active living.
Right now, you have a chance to help us help the First Nations youth of Wikwemikong without even sending in a donation! You can vote for our project to be one of the project finalists in the AVIVA Community fund contest. In the contest you can give as many as 18 votes for our project. Thank You for your vote!