Advocacy workshops upcoming

  • Nov. 21, 2007 8:00 p.m.

The District Parent Advisory Committee is holding information sessions next week aimed at helping parents speak up effectively within the school system. If you’ve ever wondered what something on your child’s report card means, or what you can do if your child is suspended, or just want to know more about how the BC school system works, these sessions will be full of useful information. Janet Phillips of the BC Advocacy Project, who will be attending by teleconference, says next week’s sessions will be a great introduction to the concept of advocacy, and will let participants ask lots of questions and figure out how parent advocacy can work in this district. “It’s really about helping parents help themselves,” Ms Phillips said. “We’re really developing a support network for parents.” Ms Phillips has been teaching parents throughout BC advocacy skills since 1994, when the Advocacy Project started in the Qualicum school district. The idea came about after the District Parent Advisory Committee in Qualicum realized that many parents don’t know what their rights are or how they can approach school teachers or principals with their concerns. Today, there are more than 40 school districts in BC participating in the project. “The education system is a huge system and it’s sometimes hard for people to know what to do when they have a problem,” said Cathy Bedard, also of the Advocacy Project. “It’s about helping people come in through the school doors. This project is very much about having them come in and be successful.” Often, Ms Bedard said, parents will talk to each other at the soccer field or in the grocery store about problems they are having with the school, but they don’t know how to bring their concerns forward effectively. The skills parents learn at the workshops are useful in many areas, Ms Phillips and Ms Bedard added, not just the school system. Learning how to communicate effectively also makes you a great model for your child. “This is a basic life skill,” Ms Phillips said. “Advocacy is a vital parent role, and you can learn how to make it easier and more effective.” Next week’s introductory sessions will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Queen Charlotte Secondary and Wednesday, Nov. 28 at George M. Dawson Secondary. Both sessions are the same. They run from 7 to 9 pm. Ms Phillips and Ms Bedard will be coming to the islands in the spring to hold more in-depth workshops here.