New Regina and Saskatoon program for deaf and hard of hearing preschoolers

New Regina and Saskatoon program for deaf and hard of hearing preschoolers
WATCH ABOVE: A new pilot program in Regina and Saskatoon supports the development of communication skills for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Nicole Stillger reports.

A new Saskatchewan government program will support the development of communication skills for preschool children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Children Communicating, Connecting and in Community can accommodate up to 16 children in both Regina and Saskatoon.

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The early learning program provides access to educational intervention to reduce communication barriers with families, friends and in the community.

“We know how important it is for children to have a good start in life so that they can succeed,” Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s minister of families, children and social development, said in a statement.

“Today’s announcement supports more inclusive early learning and child care that will allow more children in Saskatchewan to reach their full potential,” he added in announcing federal funding support for the program.

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The pilot program is also available to peers to support ongoing learning outside of the classroom as well as children who have a family member who is deaf or hard of hearing.

“Access to rich natural language gives deaf and hard of hearing children like my son the ability to learn and become accomplished members of society,” SonJa Van Ee, a parent of a program participant, said in a press release.

“This bilingual preschool that uses American Sign Language (ASL) and English, as well as embracing the use of hearing technology, opens opportunities for children to aspire to become doctors and engineers like deaf and hard of hearing people throughout Canada and the world.”

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The play-based program runs half-days with three staff. Children attend four days a week, with the fifth day set aside for family and community events.

Professional support, such as a speech and language pathologist, will be available to help the educators provide an environment which supports language development. Both spoken and signed instruction options are available.

There is one program available at Henry Janzen Elementary School in Regina and the other is at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic School in Saskatoon. Guardians can contact Regina Public Schools or the Saskatoon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Society to apply.

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