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Two local teachers help families access early childhood resources

On Sept. 22, local teachers Amanda Harper and Erika Topp established the Early Years Resource Fair to help with preschool development

After two teachers at Westmount Elementary School saw the need for more children to access helpful preschool resources available in the community, they sought a way to help.

The recent Early Years Community Connections Resource Fair is the result of that quest.

Amanda Harper and Erika Topp are the teachers behind the fair.

“We’re the Early Years team,” said Harper, who teaches pre-k. Topp, the co-founder of the fair, teaches kindergarten.

“We’re actually just two teachers at Westmount School that saw a need and the Early Years Coalition (EYC) offers grants to people …,” Harper explained, noting that their partnership with the EYC made the resource fair possible.

“We saw a need for a lot of families that were coming to us that maybe haven’t heard of some of the services that were available to the community,” said Topp.

“Amanda came up with idea to do a resource fair, kind of like a one-stop-shop where everybody can come and they can pick and choose which resources fit the needs of their families,” explained Topp.

Both teachers noted that many children in support programs age out between ages three or six, and due to a lack of awareness, many who would benefit from the assistance don’t receive it when they should.

“By the time they come to us (at a kindergarten level), they may have missed out on some of those resources that they could have been accessing,” said Topp.  

Support from faculty at Westmount Elementary has been strong.

“Our principal actually sent the grant application our way and thought this (EYC) would be a great opportunity for us to put something on that we saw a need for,” Topp said. “We applied, we were granted it, and here we are today.” 

Every single one of the 15 groups that received an invitation showed up, and the teachers were given permission to use Westmount’s gym for the occasion.

“There’s a lot of things that happen where we work together to put on… different things for families with children, which is kind of neat for Moose Jaw because you don’t see that in every centre,” said Tammy Grieve, an early learning consultant with the Prairie South School Division.

Harper explained that a lot of available resources can be accessed directly by parents, and don’t always require a doctor or teacher’s referral. If you suspect that your child has the need of any given service, it may be possible to speak with one of these organizations directly.

“It’s really important because we actually have a ton of early childhood programs in Moose Jaw that could support families,” said Grieve.

“Just helping families understand what’s available to them and how important it is for early intervention, for them to have extra support or… just some play skills… there’s lots of people around who will help support that,” Grieve added.

Each of the groups in attendance showcased what they do, handed out free giveaway items, and services ranged from SGI helping with car seats to the Moose Jaw Public Library helping families get set up with a library card.

The Early Literacy Network is one of the community groups who attended the fair, and organizer Christine Boyczuk said the organization’s aim is to give preschool children the best start they can get before entering the school system.

“Our mandate is to provide the people of Moose Jaw access to the opportunities and support that they need to function in a literate community, and that includes financial literacy, reading, and success in school. We provide programming, books, and materials,” explained Boyczuk.

Another group who attended was the Dental Program, which offers children a free checkup every six months and is meant to complement regular visits to the dentist. The organization offers a fluoride treatment that’s administered right in the school, and the goal is to help prevent painful cavities.

“We want to do everything we can at every cost to prevent putting a child to sleep to have their dental work done,” said Katelyn with the program. The program is also free of charge.

For more information, contact Amanda Harper at 306-631-4254 or by email at

The resource fair was held at Westmount School on Sept. 22, and ran from 2 – 7 pm.

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