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School Divisions In Portage For BSSAP Gathering

Portage Friendship Centre's Shirley Bernard (left) helping a few volunteers through a game during a Breakout Session at the Building Student Success with Aboriginal Parents Fall Gathering in Portage. (Aaron Wilgosh/Graphic)

Portage Friendship Centre's Shirley Bernard (left) helping a few volunteers through a game during a Breakout Session at the Building Student Success with Aboriginal Parents Fall Gathering in Portage. (Aaron Wilgosh/Graphic)

An impressive first time hosting.

The Portage la Prairie School Division hosted the first Building Student Success with Aboriginal Parents (BSSAP) Fall Gathering outside of Winnipeg Thursday at the Canada Inns in Portage la Prairie. North Memorial School’s been benefiting from a BSSAP grant since its inception 13 years ago.

“We noticed our kindergarten students were coming in not quite ready with their literacy, or other school skills,” says Resource Teacher, Faye Mally. “We receive an $11,000 grant that we’ve used to create preschool parties. We do it once a month and we have the most successful one in Portage la Prairie. All the schools have them now and we find it’s helping across the division.”

Kids attend the party and will sit for a story, which teaches them how to become better listeners, but it also helps the school become a more welcoming place. Kids also craft and do other activities, and at the end of the day, they keep the book that was read and get a take-home bag of school supplies to keep working at home. Mally says it was very special to host the event here in Portage la Prairie.

“Most of Manitoba students are in the urban areas but we wanted to approach Portage and the division embraced it completely,” says BSSAP Consultant, Gerri Crilly. “They’ve really turned it into their own event and we’ve never seen such a turn out from community groups like we did here in Portage.”

The event saw many different speakers take the stage to talk about the grant and the program like Portage la Prairie School Division’s Rochelle Rands, Jill Fast, and former NDP MLA Kevin Chief. The day concluded with several breakout sessions including one ran by the Portage Friendship Centre which featured a life-size game of snakes and ladders.

The grant started at $400,000 but was increased to $600,000, and people agreed it’s starting to get some real traction and they’re excited to see it grow throughout the province.



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