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Opening Doors for Children & Families

The Gold In Sochi

I would like a show of hands; how many of you are swept up in the Olympic Games?? I haven't had the opportunity to take the games in as much as I would have liked. Although I did blow dry my hair in my kitchen just so I could watch the beginning of the Men's Curling gold medal game this morning.

What I did get swept up in before the games actually started was the bad press coming out around the conditions in Sochi. Athletes and members of the media posting pictures of half constructed hotel rooms and electric yellow drinking water. #SochiFail started trending on Twitter as people took to social media to share the deplorable conditions they were made to stay in...for a few weeks. What happens to the citizens and animals who live in this kind of poverty everyday? What happens to them when everyone returns home? What services are in place to help them out of poverty?

I believe for the most part, people are blind to poverty until it hits them smack between the eyeballs. If you have the great fortune that living in poverty is not your reality sometimes you simply do not see it. What most Albertan's don't know is that 1 in 6 children under the age of 6 in our province are living in poverty. A shocking 85% of ABC Head Start families have incomes below $36 000 per year, no matter what the size of the family. The majority of our families are working, with one or more jobs per household. The truth is the income disparity gap keeps getting larger in Alberta, Canada's richest province.

The hope for our citizens is at both a provincial and municipal level our governments are working on poverty reduction strategies. I am proud to say ABC Head Start has been the catalyst of thousands of families breaking the cycle of multi-generational poverty. Being in operation for 29 years has allowed us to see the impacts of our work. Many of the first students of ABC Head Start are now our biggest supporters as they have grown into successful adults who are in a position to give back to other families who simply need encouragement, support and a helping hand to set them on a path to success.

The unfortunate thing is that ABC Head Start can simply not meet the current demand. For every one family we serve we are forced to turn away two. Our wait-list consists of nearly 800 families. Our priority as an agency is meet these needs in whatever creative ways we can. But we can't do it alone, we will continue to need the community's help to reach our goals. An investment in early learning and family support is an investment in our communities. It's actually one of the best investments you can make because every dollar spent on early learning gives a return to society from between $1.50 to $3. What other investment has this kind of community impact?

To make an invest in early learning and poverty reduction, click here.

With the support of volunteers, ABC Head Start Society is able to support vulnerable children and families throughout the year. Volunteers contribute by sharing their ideas, talents and energy to events, on our Board of Directors and fundraisers, and in providing direct support to children, parents/caregivers and families.