Recognizing that early experiences of children, aged birth to six, are critically important for their development and wellbeing, and in particular for the child’s mental health (i.e., social-emotional development), the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Chiefs partnered with IEMHP to create resources that promote early mental health, prevent risk for those who are known to be vulnerable for poor mental health, and provide supports for young children who are experiencing poor mental health. One of the resources that will assist with these goals is a tailored training program, designed specifically for NAN community members: The Natural Helpers for the Children Learning Circle.
The Natural Helpers for the Children Learning Circle (Natural Helpers) was designed with a broad audience in mind. Parents, caregivers, extended family, professionals, students, and any other interested community members were invited to participate in the project. Natural Helpers is a series of conversations with participants that aim to increase knowledge and skill in the area of infant and early mental health while also building community capacity and understanding about the importance of the early years. The project includes a collection of pre-recorded videos, online documents, and in-person/hybrid sharing circles co-delivered by Indigenous community leaders and non-Indigenous infant and early mental health experts.
Natural Helpers includes 8 modules:
A Natural Helpers pilot was delivered October to December 2022 in Moose Factory and Moosonee, ON.
The Natural Helpers for the Children Learning Circle pilot started with an in-person celebratory launch in Moose Factory where key partners, community representatives, and pilot participants all gathered for a meal and valuable discussion about the project and about the children and families it hopes to support along the way.
Participants were invited to partake in their own unique learning journey over the course of 8 weeks, as they:
Discussions are currently underway as the pilot is evaluated and plans for future sites are considered.
To learn more about the Natural Helpers for the Children Learning Circle program, don’t hesitate to contact us.