Mary Jean Marinas adjusts her sthree-year-old son Adrian's mortar board while his brother

Proud parents cheer tiny graduates

They take the stage one by one, grinning nervously and anxious to get out of the royal blue mortar boards on their heads and back to the serious business of playing with their equally nervous and anxious friends.

They take the stage one by one, grinning nervously and anxious to get out of the royal blue mortar boards on their heads and back to the serious business of playing with their equally nervous and anxious friends.

There was a time that this entire party could have taken place at a picnic in Rotary Park, says Helen Andrew, president of the Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association.

HIPPY Canada, a hands-on program that helps immigrant families prepare their children for kindergarten and public school, graduated 28 preschoolers in its first year.

Five years later, 105 tiny graduates were dressed in royal blue gowns and mortarboards for their graduation ceremony on Saturday, while proud parents from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Central and South America cheered and snapped pictures in the auditorium of a Red Deer church.

Funded largely by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program was written for immigrant families for whom English or French are second languages.

The program acknowledges that the language barrier and other cultural differences will make it more difficult for those parents to help their children fit in at school.

So, while the weekly modules and home visits are designed to help the children, the parents — especially the mothers — benefit from the ongoing contact with program workers and other parents.

Brothers Alcedric and Adrian Marinas, aged five and three, were graduates number 56 and 57 in Saturday’s ceremony.

Their parents met in Red Deer after immigrating from the Philippines to work in Alberta.

Cheesemaker Alford Marinas arrived in August of 2007 while his wife, Mary Jean, had come in February of the previous year to work as a nanny.

Alford Marinas said he and Mary Jean have found child rearing very different here compared to the Philippines, where they would have shared parenting duties with dozens of relatives.

Here, there are no relatives to lend a hand, he said.

Mary Jean said the modules were broken down into different categories such as language and math, and designed to fit around a small child’s short attention span.

Each module is completed over the course of a week, at about 15 minutes a day and with home visits from a HIPPY Canada instructor.

Mary Jean’s instructor had come from Ukraine. Even though they came from vastly different backgrounds, the instructor had shared similar experiences as a new Canadian and was therefore able to understand and appreciate the difficulties Mary Jean was experiences as she and Alford adjusted to living in an English speaking, multi-cultural world.

The program also includes a number of events, bringing families together and helping their children meet new friends from all over the world.

Mary Jean says she may consider becoming a HIPPY Canada instructor at some point in the future.

She laughs at Adrian’s attempts to stop her from putting her efforts to put the mortar board back on his head. He’s finding it kind of itchy, she says.

The next program starts in October and runs through until June and is available in Red Deer and some surrounding communities, including Ponoka and Lacombe. There have been waiting lists at times during the first five years, with funding levels dictating how many spaces will be available, says Andrew.

Information is available from HIPPY Canada program co-ordinator Mercedes Cruz at CAIWA, 403-341-3553.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

RDC’s new name to be unveiled in February

The next big milestone for Red Deer College is a new name,… Continue reading

Lacombe updating its nuisance bylaw

New bylaw expected to address everything from noisy snowblowers to driveway wrecks

RCMP seek suspect in Rimbey armed robbery

Rimbey Liquor Store was robbed at gunpoint about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday

Rimbey RCMP searching for suspects in break and enter spree

Rimbey RCMP are looking for a pair of culprits responsible for five… Continue reading

Stolen vehicle and gun seized in Blackfalds

Blackfalds man to appear in court

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Trial starts for man accused of killing Winnipeg bus driver

The Winnipeg bus driver was stabbed multiple times back in 2017

Giuliani clarifies comments about Trump Tower Moscow project

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani clarifies comments he made

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Olympian Adam van Koeverden wins federal Liberal nomination in Ontario riding

MILTON, Ont. — Former Olympic flag-bearer Adam van Koeverden will be carrying… Continue reading

World champion Osmond says it’s “really nice” not to know what future holds

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Kaetlyn Osmond has a world title, Olympic medals… Continue reading

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

Timberlake pops in on patients at Texas children’s hospital

DALLAS — Justin Timberlake has pulled some sunshine from his pocket for… Continue reading

UK police speak to Prince Philip about not wearing seatbelt

LONDON — British police have spoken with Prince Philip after the husband… Continue reading

Most Read