Children need resources.
They need ways to help combat bullying, to talk about their fears and sadness, to escape violence at home, and to stay clean and sober.
They need The Help Project — a program emerging from within the community designed to connect kids with the information they need. Several key players in the Fraser Cascade are involved, including school trustee Al Fraser.
He, along with Susan Eick, and Kristi Kozel, addressed Harrison council on Monday night with a presentation about the project, outlining the key supporters, the background, the intentions and reasons for the need.
They also made a request for funding. The Help Project will require $10,000 to get off the ground. That would, among other things, cover website implementation and the creation of a QR code that would go on backpack tags and other items for kids with smart phones.
At the end of the 25-minute presentation, Mayor Leo Facio suggested they write a formal request for funding.
“We are just starting the budget process so a letter of request would be your first step,” he explained. He also suggested they join in with this year’s Health and Wellness Fair.
Dr. Michael Scott, from Harrison Hot Springs, was moved to speak up at that point, from the public gallery.
“I’d like to give you $1,000,” he told the group.
The Help Project committee is planning to kick off in February, with a school district wide art contest. The winners of the art contest will receive iPad minis, an incentive they hope will grab kids’ initial attention. Their work will also be used as the images promoting the project.
Their goal with the art contest is to engage students and teachers in dialogue about the project.
There will also be flyers around the community, and advertising through print and digital media. It will be inclusive of all School District 78 schools, as well as Agassiz Christian School, Chehalis and Seabird. Partners in the project so far include MCFD, the school board and school district administration and staff, Fraser Valley Regional Library including Agassiz Library’s Terrill Scott, the Agassiz Harrison Healthy Communities Committee, Seabird Island Mental Health, Fraser Health, Show Kids You Care and Free Rein Associates in Hope.
They are hoping to bring the Village of Harrison into the fold, as well as the Districts of Kent and Hope. They will speak as delegates at an upcoming Kent council meeting.
They also have the support of citizen partners Liz Muller, Andrea McRae and student Kaitlin Roberts.
Eick told council a moving story about how her family ended up moving to Harrison Hot Springs two years ago. They had lived very close to Columbine when the mass shooting occurred there. When her two children started attending school, it became clear that gun violence was affecting their education.
Schools there conducted regular “bad guy drills,” she said. “We had growing concern of our children’s safety in the schools. I was horrified by this. It was telling them, you are not safe at school.”
It spurred on a move to Canada, and they settled in the Village. Now, she’s focused on working with The Help Project to ensure all youth in the area have easy access to all the services they need.
The Help Project includes new media version of the previous Little Black Book. The QR code will link users directly to all the information they need locally and regionally. It will also be a part of the new 211 Help Line, and include a Facebook page, website, iPhone application and more.