Agape NPI Partners briefed on new and ongoing projects

Martin C. Barry
Agape’s Ian Williams (far left) and Kevin McLeod (centre) led the Feb. 25 meeting of the NPI Partners Committee.

On Feb. 25 during a meeting of the Laval NPI Partners Committee at Laval Senior Academy, the partners and members heard presentations from several local organizations mandated to provide social assistance and services in the Laval region.
The Bright Beginnings project was explained by Agape Youth & Parents Family Association executive-director Kevin McLeod, who also welcomed Varun Thurairatnam as Agape’s recently hired coordinator for Youth outreach and for the Enhancing Regional Community Capacity initiative.

Bright Beginnings

The Bright Beginnings program is designed to mobilize partners and enhance the well-being and educational success of English-speaking children and youth in Quebec. Funding for this program is provided by the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation and the project is managed by the CHSSN.
The Regroupement Lavallois pour la réussite scolaire/Wurd Up series was presented by Katrina Diver (Community Learning Centre). A special mention of Katrina’s good work at Laval Senior Academy and on this project was noted by members present.

Literacy through learning

Over the past three years LSA’s Community Learning Centre in partnership with Agape has received funding from The Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES) to develop a project promoting literacy through learning activities. This project targets youth 12-17 years of age from both Laval Junior and Senior Academy schools, their families as well as members of the greater Laval community.
Boys to Men/Girls to Women (Mentoring Circles) was presented by David Cordes, executive- director of Boys to Men Canada. Testimonials as to the effectiveness of the programs were provided by students (Fad and Destiny) from Laval Senior Academy who attend the boy’s and girl’s mentor circles.

Boys and girls mentoring

Boys to Men and Girls to Women Canada are intergenerational mentoring programs Laval Senior Academy has begun to offer its students. Supporters say the mentor circles provide a safe, non-judgmental and supportive environment for students to share their stories, recognize their authentic voice and limitless potential and help develop essential and valuable life skills.
Circle sessions work like this: each circle is composed of an intergenerational team of mentors (seniors, young adults, alumni, teachers, support staff) and is led by a group facilitator. Mentors commit to weekly sessions and hold space and provide support for participating students.
Sessions combine learning, fun, leadership opportunities, peer mentoring and self-esteem building exercises. Every session begins with a check-in for each member and is followed by a discussion/activity led by the group facilitator.

Embracing diversity

The Healthy Early Years Program was introduced by Kevin McLeod and presented by new project coordinators Natalina Pace and Danielle Boisvert. Helen Morrison from the CISSS Laval invited the coordinators to attend the “Embracing Diversity” event in order to help promote this new project.
The Got my info youth web resource was presented by Kevin McLeod. The website ( was presented to the partners. (A mobile app is available for Android users, but some difficulties are being worked out with Apple for the ios version.) Agape is asking that this resource be shared to better allow it to be known to youth, parents and those who work with youth.

Conversation Club

The McGill Retention of bilingual health professionals and Bursary program was presented by Agape’s social worker and coordinator Ian Williams. A new addition was introduced with the Conversation Club which started in the fall of 2019 to help health professionals who have taken English courses to maintain their skills (a project from Montérégie-est NPI).
Representing the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, Michael Quinn said the SWLSB is interested in the Special Targeted Bursary program, where students who are granted a bursary and promise to return to work in Laval or other identified regions can also fulfill their commitment by working as health professionals at the SWLSB. Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists are heavily lacking both at the SWLSB and at the CISSS Laval.

Gardening project

The Intergenerational Gardening Project was presented by Kevin McLeod. This project between Agape Senior Wellness Centre seniors and grade two children at Twin Oaks Elementary was initially funded by the City of Laval and then by the Desjardins Foundation. Funding is no longer available and new partners are being sought.
A special announcement was made by Darlene Brown of The Learning Exchange. TLE is once again running a reading and storytelling project called A 1000 books before Kindergarten. Representatives of the TLE can go to your school or daycare to read and provide free books. Those interested can go to on the web.
The Laval NPI Partners Committee is a “network partnership initiative” created in conjunction with the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN). Agape, which provides charitable services from its storefront and offices on Notre Dame Blvd., is the sponsoring organization for the Laval network.