They exist to help build better families

Naal Sharkawi has a passion to build stronger families and communities as the new executive director of the Children Resource Council (CRC) and Northern Lights Family Resource Network (FRN) based in High Prairie. Both organizations serve the High Prairie and Big Lakes Country region, the region west to the Falher and McLennan region, east to the Slave Lake and Wabasca regions and Indigenous communities.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Stronger families and communities are top priorities for the new executive director of the Children’s Resource Council (CRC) and Northern Lights Family Resource Network (FRN).
Naal Sharkawi, of High Prairie, became the executive director July 5.
“We are building strong communities and strong families,” he says.
“The CRC is here for the community.”
Both the CRC and the FRN serve the Town of High Prairie, Big Lakes County and neighbouring Indigenous communities, west to the M.D. of Smoky River, the Falher and McLennan region, and east to the M.D. of Lesser Slave River, Slave Lake, the M.D. of Opportunity and Wabasca region.
“Community collaboration is a key for the CRC,” says Sharkawi, who has been active with the CRC for more than 15 years.
“We have started working with other organizations in the community and will continue in coming years to deliver programs, workshops and events.
“The CRC wants to continue partnerships with community agencies and work with local governments to create more community events and facilities.”
He notes office space is available in Slave Lake, partially donated by the Town of Slave Lake, program space in McLennan at Ecole Providence School, while the CRC is seeking space in Wabasca.
The organization also operates programs in Peavine Metis Settlement, East Prairie Metis Settlement and Gift Lake Metis Settlement.
“We serve a large area and its does prove to be difficult,” Sharkawi says.
“Continuous contact and travel is necessary to ensure a high level of service is provided.
“We communicate with our counterparts frequently to gather information and implement programs that work in those areas based on needs.”
The CRC provides resources, workshops and programs to help parents develop skills and obtain knowledge in parenting, regardless of background or socioeconomic status.
Sharkawi says the Children’s Centre in High Prairie offers play programs, prenatal and postnatal care and some evening and weekend programs.
“Helping families grow strong is the top priority for the board,” Sharkawi says.
“Teaching parents and children and youth skills to implement at home can translate into those skills being used in school, the workforce and community.”
As people face so many new things in the world, he says it’s become overwhelming.
“The changes in our society, social media and peer influences make it hard for parents to navigate what is right for their children,” Skarkawi says.
“The CRC’s resources can help families through those sometimes-difficult times.”
He says the CRC is seeking more funding support.
“The federal provincial and governments do a great job with grants towards organizations such as the CRC,” says Sharkawi who has a bachelor’s degree in management and has worked with government agencies in the past.
“However, they are age-program-based grants and we are looking to do more for the community through the centre and with partners in our service area.”
The CRC is looking to build its financial base to better serve the community.
“We want to increase our donation centre, have more outreach programs, more community events, and most importantly, programs for our youth, that is restricted by our current funding,” says Sharkawi, who has worked with children and youth in the local school system for the past two years.
“Provincial and federal funding with go only so far.
“We’re always looking for more and better ways to help the communities, working with other organizations to provide services and programs that will benefit the community.
“We are working with schools to try to build programs.”
More is in store for the CRC.
“The CRC plans to create more for the community, including after-school programs and youth programs for ages 13-17,” Sharkawi says.
“The CRC is excited to work with the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre, WJS, the High Prairie Municipal Library, schools and other organizations that would like to partner to create programs and activities for our youth.
“We want to be involved with creating new childcare facilities, a splash park and an outdoor skating rink.”
It will go a long way to help youth and families.
“We know by giving parents the capacity to overcome every parental struggles, we can in turn see families grow stronger together,” Sharkawi says.
“No matter your background, or socioeconomic status, parenting is difficult and we are here to help.”
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