The Charter – developed through a partnership with Early Childhood Action Coalition (ECAC) and Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee (RIC ), will serve as a foundational document as the participating agencies continue to focus on programs and services that promote positive approaches to the early childhood years. “Our goal is to support the work that has already begun (in Shaunavon),” said Lisa Kuntz, Student Services Coordinator, Chinook School Division and Southwest Early Childhood Action Coalition Co-chair. The Coalition has been meeting for more than a year. Much of the group’s focus in recent months has been on the development of the ‘Children’s Charter,’ which was created to identify a series of values and priorities that would guide the future work of the Coalition. The document includes a list of children’s rights that ranges from the Right to Be Safe to the Right to Play and Learn. “The schools are already doing many of those things,” said Kuntz said of the Charter. “For us, its a question of what can we do to help and how can we bring more services to the community of Shaunavon and the surrounding area.” Officials will be holding a series of Launch events across the region, including celebrations at Leader, Ponteix, Gull Lake, Maple Creek and Herbert. The event in Shaunavon on Thursday featured a number of activities, including presentations by pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and Grade 1 students from Shaunavon Public School, as well as Kindergarten students from Christ the King School. “This is something to benefit children, so we wanted the children to lead,” said Kuntz. The Coalition includes representatives from Education, Health, Social Services, Early Learning and Childcare, and other community agencies. Each agency or community group is asked to designate a representative to sit on this committee. Membership is open to an agency or community representative interested in issues facing young children from birth to six years of age. Lee Cummins, Superintendent of Student Services, Chinook School Division and Southwest RIC Co-chair, commented on the importance of the Charter’s development. “The Southwest Children’s Charter, and related focus on young children from the Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee, is an outstanding opportunity for agencies, communities, and citizens to collaborate in shaping our future,” said Cummins in a press release. “Research significantly identifies that reaching children at a very young age, providing supports and opportunities for learning, literacy, play and nutrition has a huge influence on them for the rest of their lives. The Early Childhood Coalition continues to build positive foundations and promising futures in the southwest.” “We will continue to work together in raising awareness to promote positive foundations and promising futures for our children, families, and communities,” said Kuntz. Elizabeth Laverdiere, Family Advocacy Worker and Southwest Early Childhood Action Coalition Co-chair, spoke of the importance of partnering agencies working together to benefit the children of the southwest. “The Family Advocacy Program strives to promote partnerships that support families with young children so they can have the best start in life,” said Laverdiere.