AHC named recipients of ASBA Friends of Education Award

LAKELAND - Action for Healthy Communities (AHC) is being recognized by the Alberta School Board’s Association (ASBA) for their relationship with Lakeland Catholic Schools. 

After a successful nomination submitted by the school division, AHC will be taking the stage in May to accept one of two Friends of Education Awards presented in Zone 2/3. 

“We are thrilled AHC has been named the recipients of this award. Our relationship with the organization has made a tremendous difference in the lives of our English Language Learner (ELL) students and their families,” said LCSD Board Chair Diane Bauer. 

The Edmonton-based organization uses Small Centres teams to serve communities such as the Lakeland with welcoming newcomer families to Canada. 

The Bonnyville-Cold Lake group works closely with Lakeland Catholic’s ELL Lead Teacher Sherry Depner to provide programming to ELL students and their families. 

“I cannot think of a more deserving organization than AHC,” Depner said. “The past couple of years have been a challenge for so many people - and AHC has worked closely with our school division to help provide wraparound services for our newcomer students and families.” 

She added, by working together, LCSD and AHC are able to “provide some comfort amongst the chaos” of settling into a new community. 

This includes meeting the families’ needs at school, at home, and in the greater community. 

AHC’s flagship program, Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) is “based on a powerful idea: newcomers succeed when they are embraced and understood by their communities,” detailed Lisa Jane de Gara, AHC Small Centres Manager. 

“On behalf of AHC, and particularly our Small Centres team, I am truly so excited and so grateful to be honoured with the Friends of Education Award for Zone 2/3,” she said. “As the manager of our rural and regional program, it brings me great joy to see that school divisions supporting small communities can be recognized for their success in supporting newcomers. Rural immigration is an increasingly vital part of Canada’s overall immigration strategy, and more and more newcomers to Canada are choosing to settle in small towns. Many communities across the country could learn from Lakeland Catholic’s success in supporting immigrants - and I hope that they do.”

AHC will accept the award during the ASBA Edwin Parr Award Banquet in Edmonton on May 27.