Partners gather to discuss challenges, successes of Syrian summer camps
About 30 stakeholders attended a report back event on April 27 to look at the lessons learned from expanding summer programming for Syrian refugees in 2016. The event included partners who accessed $250,000 from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and aimed to inform continuous improvement while exploring what difference the programs made in the lives of refugee families.
Out of School Time (OST) Collaborative partners, with this additional IRCC funding, were able to expand summer programs city-wide, and created new summer programs to meet the increasing needs of Syrian refugees. REACH contracted an independent evaluator to report back about the process, program coordination and the outcomes of offering additional programming during the summer of 2016.
The evaluation research paper found:
• Without the existence of OST, Joint Use Summer Access and All in for Youth collaboration it would not have been possible to implement these programs with such tight timelines. Organizations were able to recruit children because of their existing community connections.
• There were some communication challenges with newly-arrived parents who have negative associations with the word “camp” after going through the refugee camp experience.
• Kids are pretty adaptive, and are able to communicate through the universal language of play. There are more difficulties with the parents, such as the presence of trauma and language barriers while gathering information on registration forms.
• Because the funding was announced within such a short timeline, there were many challenges in organizing programming, which were made easier to overcome because of existing community partnerships.
The report back event was also an opportunity for partners to brainstorm about how some of these challenges could be addressed in OST summer programs going forward.
“We wanted to bring everyone back to the table to look at what was accomplished last year,” said Lindsay Daniller, director of community initiatives and strategic development. “Whenever we receive funds, we want to understand and learn about our new communities so we use evaluation to make future improvements.”
REACH coordinated the management and distribution of the IRCC funding to seven groups to deliver expanded programs in July and August of 2016, while one group delivered expanded programming from September to March.
OST partners who received funding from the IRCC in 2016 included Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters Edmonton, Brander Gardens ROCKS, Free Footie, Islamic Family and Social Services Association, Nyarkenyi Development Foundation Alberta, South Pointe Community Centre, YMCA with ASSIST Community Services Centre, and YWCA Edmonton.