NFNA offering vital service to local kids
Since 1996 the North Flats Neighbourhood Association has been helping local kids get a leg up on life.
Working with those Flats kids who are most vulnerable due to poverty or other challenging circumstances, the association strives to break the cycles that lead to troubled lives generation after generation.
“One of the biggest things we want to do is teach the kids life skills,” explains association co-ordinator Charity Ehnisz. “We’re their safe haven for them to go to. We’re the place that has their backs, and are involved and care about their lives. And we are trying our best to meet their needs and develop successful life skills so the cycle doesn’t have to continue.”
Offering free after-school programs and summer camps, the North Flats Neighbourhood Association operates out of St. Louis School in the heart of the Flats. This location makes programming readily accessible to those who need it most.
“We are right in the community so we are easy to get to,” confirms association assistant co-ordinator Amanda Bollinger. “The kids can get themselves here and home if they need to. They don’t need to depend on somebody else to be involved in things.
“We do activities like journals once a week with the kids so they can express themselves and reflect on things. We have a literacy component that has daily literacy activities ... We do arts and crafts once a week. We also do baking and cooking with the kids so they know how to follow a recipe and use measurements. We do science experiments with them. We do theme days ... And we do lots of physical activity.”
“When it first started there was a lot of groundwork, and we would find the kids in the Flats who needed us,” explains Ehnisz. “What happens now is we have registration in September for our after-school program and a registration in June for our summer program. In order for any child to attend they must be registered, which is a long and lengthy form. Then there are obviously teachers and principals and community and mental health workers who will recommend kids into the program where there is a need.”
Ehnisz and Bollinger both know what the North Flats Neighbourhood Association does for local kids and families is crucially important, and that they are making an impact on the lives of families in need. They are grateful for all the ongoing community support the organization receives to help uplift the lives of kids who stand on a very narrow and dangerous precipice, inconceivable to many other kids their age.
“We have some parents who will flat out tell you they need us to be here, and they don’t know what they would do if we weren’t,” says Ehnisz. “That just shows how necessary and integral this program is for the community. The community knows we are here, and the kids know where to go and they know they can share their stories with us.”
For more information on the North Flats Neighbourhood Association email email@example.com.
Charity Ehnisz (left) and Amanda Bollinger co-ordinate all the programming for the North Flats Neighbourhood Association, and know their work is making a difference in the lives of vulnerable Flats kids.