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Community Reaching for Rainbows

Zoe Law, a member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Picton, poses in the new Reaching for Rainbows after school centre--a community outreach project of the church in partnership with CAS, Children's Mental Health and Community Living Prince Edward to serve girls in the community. Phil Norton photo

In the song “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz, lead character Dorothy Gale fantasizes about a place over the rainbow, where the world is in peace and harmony.
In “Rainbow Connection”, a song known for being sung by Kermit the Frog, the rainbow is  something to wish on, as a vision, or symbol of hope.
In “Reaching for Rainbows”, a new after school project in Picton, peace, harmony, a vision and symbol of hope unite.
The hall at St. Andrew’s Church in Picton will be transformed into a world where Grade 1 girls will be invited to participate in play-based learning supported by a team of compassionate and trained volunteers.
Reaching for Rainbows is designed to create a nurturing environment where girls are celebrated and encouraged to develop life skills, academic skills and a vision of their own success.
The project is the brain child of Rev. Lynne Donovan.
“A recent study shows kindergarten students in the Quinte region are among some of the most vulnerable in Ontario,” Donovan said. “These children are up to 16 per cent more likely to struggle with poor physical health and well being and 15 per ccent more likely to battle with poor language and cognitive skills.
“The congregation at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Picton wants the best for the children of Picton. The leadership at St. Andrew’s pulled together a team of community players who all shared a passion for the healthy development of children.”
The project begins by bringing together 12 girls in Grade 1 who are referred by partner social agencies – the Children’s Aid Society, Children’s Mental Health, Community Living Prince Edward and Alternatives for Women. The girls will meet three days a week.
“Our goals are to provide opportunities for girls to develop positive relationships with others,” Donovan explained. “We want to provide opportunities for girls to discover their own gifts through creativity, recreation, academics and the arts. We want to provide them with the tools they need for academic and social success and to take the initiative and develop good decision making sills and provide models for healthy conflict resolution.”
Most of all, Donovan says, Reaching for Rainbows will promote enthusiasm, joy and laughter.
“Together with our referral partners we will establish a means of determining whether or not we are achieving these goals and then redirect our initiative accordingly.”
Donovan expects the program will be a work in progress.
“In year two we will welcome 12 new girls from Grade 1 to join the original group. It is crucial the project meet the needs of the girls as they grow and therefore, the direction of the project in year three will be determined by the gorup and their unique needs, gifts and aspirations.”
To date, Reaching for Rainbows has received start-up funding from the Theakston Foundation and the Outreach Fund at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The annual budget, which includes a project co-ordinator, is set at about $20,000.
“We are looking for members of the community to consider a one-time gift, or an annual pledge,” Donovan said.
A benefit concert will be held Sunday, April 10 at 2 pm featuring Katalin Kiss, Instant Rivalry, Mark Despault and Amy Rutherford. The hall at St. Andrew’s has been set up so that the public can have a  first-hand experience of the kinds of play-based educational centres that that make up the space.
For further information call Lynne Donovan at 613-476-1167 or rev.lynne@sympatico.ca

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