Dear Friends of EvenStart,

Thank you for your interest in this charitable program serving Calgary’s ‘at risk’ children. An EvenStart child may be cocaine-addicted at birth or suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. In most case, they have experienced some form of childhood trauma.

This may be from:

·                     Physical abuse– Such children come to us with black eyes and have instincts developed well beyond their years. Most know physical touch as something painful.

·                     Sexual abuse– Such children know very little about the physical boundaries of their own bodies. They are children who learn at too young an age that touch is something frightening.

·                     Neglect– Such children have known little or no touch at all. From birth, they have been isolated and have learned that when you cry, no one comes. These children are often found staring blankly at the wall, disconnecting from a world that has failed to reach out to them.

·                     Poverty– Poverty is the common denominator amongst EvenStart children. These children come hungry each morning and need to be fed. They are children who take their plastic forks and wash them in the bathroom sink and wrap up half their food to take home. They are the children who come to our bus in the middle of winter dressed in a plastic raincoat and sandals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 When a child is born into these circumstances, it often results in many social and emotional problems, as well as physical problems related to stress. Children have difficulty regulating their state of wakefulness, sleep, attention, and mood. They are very sensitive, yet are not easily consoled. They have difficulty making connections between their feelings and needs. The stress they experience releases cortisol, which interferes with the brain’s neural growth and development. These children often demonstrate smaller head circumferences and physical growth, appear tired, and frequently experience illness and digestive problems.

At age three, we see many speech, language and motor delays – over 70% in our preschool population. We find that the children’s play, speech and movements are often underdeveloped. We also find that their development of visual and auditory attention and memory are greatly affected. These lags have serious implications for a child beginning school who needs to attend to a teacher in a classroom.

Beginning life with these health and developmental problems further limits the child’s ability to handle daily life.

To help mitigate such early life challenges, EvenStart provides a centre-based program with specialized supports.

 We provide:

·                     A safe place to be; a place that is predictable, establishes boundaries, and where the most important work we do is form the relationship with each child, because it is through the relationship that a child feels safe enough to learn a new way “to be”.

·                     At least 1 staff member to every 4 children.

·                     Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and play therapy, to assist children with closing their developmental lags and healing their emotional wounds.

·                     Transportation to and from our program, because 70% of our families are headed by single parent women who have little in the way of resources.

·                     An abundance of food because these children are always hungry.

·                     Support and training to parents in their homes to assist in carrying over the child’s learning.

     And we do this with respect for the child’s family!

EvenStart has provided these services for over 15 years to the children in the City of Calgary.

We have done this in an aging building that we can no longer “hold together”.

We now ask Corporate Calgary to help us build this optimal child intervention centre, and, in turn assure our continued success in improving early childhood development.

Thank you for your support,

Ilona Boyce, MSW
Executive Director (Volunteer)
EvenStart for Children Foundation