Community Clubs can make all the difference to a family starting anew from a different country. Different weather, customs, transportation and shopping and banking options, and certainly, different child and family support and education opportunities, can be overwhelming to navigate and move through successfully.
When Mom and Dad brought 9 year old Dhruv, an only child, from India in the summer of 2013, they were fortunate to connect with their local school, Norwood Elementary.
Since September 2013, and at least four days a week, Dhruv joins the “walking school bus” from Norwood to the BGCBigs McCauley Club. Either Mom or Dad picks him up at the end of the evening.
In a Club where staff and volunteers regularly host more than 30 kids a day, Dhruv was selected “Star of the Month” for February. When Mom found out, she was so excited and proud of her son. She and her husband are incredibly grateful for the support and friendship Dhruv receives through the McCauley Club. They appreciate the fun, friendly and safe environment where Dhruv has the opportunity to share time with other kids but also benefit from mentoring relationships with adults and programming that helps with his English speaking and reading skills. Through Dhruv’s participation in a variety of field trips, he is becoming connected to his new community and gaining confidence in his new place in the world, extending the knowledge gained with his parents and other family members.
Mom brought some Indian food to share with the staff of the McCauley Club, as a token of appreciation for all their support to Dhruv and their family. She has also expressed a desire to cook for the club kids and share her knowledge of Indian cooking. Our staff members are working with her to build this opportunity into our summer camp programming this year.
Dad shared with us how important it is to him that there are structured programs and professionally trained staff providing services in his community for his son and other children like him. Nirmal, one of the Club Staff, is able to provide instrumental support for their family in their own language. Dad feels very fortunate they landed in a city and province that value newcomer families and offer unconditional assistance in what can be a very difficult transition. Dhruv joined us at this year’s “bike rodeo” in partnership with the Edmonton Police Department and AMA, and was so surprised to receive a free bike, safety helmet and certificate for participating. Mom and Dad both are humbled by the availability of these kinds of opportunities at no cost to them.
At our last “family night”, Mom and Dad participated in the activities and had their picture taken with their son; clearly proud to be involved with BGCBigs and in their son’s accomplishments.
Dhruv began with us as a quiet and passive child. Although always well-behaved and respectful, his participation and engagement have grown dramatically in the last 10 months. He has developed connections with the McCauley staff and volunteers and has many new friends that carry back to Norwood. His shyness has turned to curiosity and he is eager to learn and participate in new things, demonstrating a newly developed but still fragile confidence.
Dhruv and his family are an amazing example of the power of working together as parents and community to ensure the success of a child. By connecting with Dhruv, and by extension his family, BGCBigs has been able to begin the process of welcoming these newcomers in ways that help them feel connected and supported. At just 9 years old, Dhruv has already invested himself in creating his own bright future and we looks forward to assisting his family and continuing to see him through his formative years.by