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Photos: Summer program preps Ukrainian kids for Canadian school –

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Thirteen Ukrainian refugees between the ages of six and 17 took part in a summer program to prepare them for school in Canada through a partnership between the Rainbow District School Board and YMCA Immigration Services.
Hosted at MacLeod Public School, the brand-new pilot program was offered three days a week from July 19 to Aug. 18. 
Given that many of the participants knew little to no English, literacy was a primary focus as students learned to read, write and speak the language under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Students also enjoyed fun activities such as arts and crafts, soccer, badminton and games. They also had an opportunity to meet community members who provide essential services, such as local firefighters.
“I think the program is very best for the Ukrainian students,” said Daria Serozhenko, who moved to Sudbury earlier this spring, quoted in a press release. She says her English has improved a lot and she appreciated being able to practice speaking, reading and writing.
Leyla Makhambet, a Settlement Worker in Schools (SWIS) with YMCA of Northeastern Ontario, said in a press release it’s important that newcomers feel welcome and supported as they settle into a new community. 
Helping newcomers make the transition to the local school system is also critical to ensure continuity in their education.
Dan Koziar, principal of program with the Rainbow board, told the newly-arrived Ukrainian families had approached the YMCA about kids’ English language programming over the summer, and YMCA then partnered with the school board.
“Because many of them were brand new to the country, (the students’) proficiency was fairly low in terms of English language,” he said.
“We also wanted to make sure part of it was connecting those Ukrainian families in the community as well, so that they had sort of a support system.”
He said the students enjoyed activities such as familiarizing themselves with the Sudbury library system or learning about how job interviews work in Canada.
While only Ukrainian students took part in the program this year, there’s an expectation other newcomers will participate if it’s put on again next summer.
“While all of the participants as you are from Ukraine, we expect that as the city welcomes more newcomers, there will be an ongoing need for the program,” said Bruce Bourget, director of education with the Rainbow District School Board, speaking at the Aug. 30 board meeting.
“We certainly hope to have an opportunity to partner with YMCA to offer a similar program in the future.”
Bourget added during the meeting that the board is welcoming 15 students from Ukraine to its schools this fall.
About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen
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