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Group organizes school supplies for kindergarten
Rankin Inlet youngsters will benefit from educational kits put together by small group of volunteers

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A small act of kindness intended to help a mother of two purchase school supplies has ballooned into a full blown project to help as many children as possible in Rankin Inlet get the tools they need to succeed.

When Kim Hovey, who is originally from Ontario, arrived in Rankin three years ago she realized that some of school materials were either too expensive or non-existent for her two children. When they became old enough to attend pre-kindergarten this year she reached out to friends down south to see if anyone could send a few things North.

Once she realized it would be expensive to send just a few items up for her own children, Hovey suggested a group of people get together to organize supplies for all the kindergartners in the community. That's how Growing Minds in Rankin came to be.

"It started with two kids and now we've provided 65 kits to kids coming to kindergarten," said Chris Couper, who is studying for his early childhood educator diploma at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

Because he is specializing in early childhood education, Couper was brought on board to help come up with the things that would help them learn.

The kits all include basic items like pencils, scissors and other craft-related accessories. It will also include age-appropriate books in both Inuktitut and English.

"Instead of sending stuff that would be just nice to have, this stuff has lots of educational merit to it," said Couper.

While some of these things are available at school they are often not allowed to brought home. As a result Couper said the kits would allow children to continue practising their skills on their own.

"If they continue learning at home and include local culture, that's what we want to do."

The first batch of kits arrived this spring and were distributed to families.

Hovey said she has already received lots of positive feedback from those that received kits.

"One parent told me that her son was scared about starting school. Once he got his Edukit and began discovering what is taught, he is now excited to start school," she said.

Since coming together in the spring the group has received a grant of up $2,500 to help pay for the supplies. Calm Air also donated 200 pounds worth of free cargo to help ship everything up from down south.

Hovey said all those donations will go toward receiving kits for next year, which will hopefully arrive sometime in August or early September.

Hovery said Growing Minds is also looking to expand the program older children in the future.

"We are hoping to provide Edukits to the Grade 1 to 4 students. We hope to continue to provide the Edukits every year for the pre-kindergarten assessment appointments, maybe starting a pen pal program to link children in the isolated North to children in the south."

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