Cool Aid Society

Every day it was the same scene on repeat.
James walked through the door, greeted the leaders and immediately went to the bookshelf. He picked up a book and plopped himself on the worn grey couch, legs curled beneath him. It was the same book every day, the pages worn thin from his tiny fingers carefully leafing through its pages.  He studied the images with his eyes and hands, but the words were a jumble. James was in grade two, and he could not read. The words were intimidating to him, a mess of squiggly lines with no real meaning, but the pictures; the vividly coloured images drew him in.
The staff continually encouraged him, "it is good to enjoy the book even if you can't read the words", they assured him, it was of little comfort to James, but still; every day he came in, every day he picked up the same book, every day he sat on his same spot on the couch.
Eventually other children grew curious of the quiet boy on the couch, and the staff noticed a shift. James was no longer sitting alone. Other children were joining him, encouraging him, and guiding him through the words on the page.
Through friendship and peer support James gradually learned to read his book, that book led to others, and James was soon reading just like the other children his age.
"That is what makes this program unique, Cool-aid is a support to these children" the staff states; “the children are in a group, and they grow as a group. They know what is going on in each other’s lives, and support each other, these are no cliques, or social status, they are just kids in a safe place where they can be kids, and that is a wonderful thing."
Cool-aid, a free after school and summer program for children in Grande Prairie is a catalyst for change. Everyday there are stories of success such as James' that emerge from the environment created by the caring, dedicated staff of the Cool-Aid Society.
The Community Foundation is proud of their partnership with the Cool-Aid Society of Grande Prairie. Through funding from the Foundation the Cool-aid Society is able to support youth and youth at risk and offer them opportunities they may otherwise miss out on, including providing transportation to and from the Eastlink Centre so they can exercise and socialize at the pool. Our youth are the future of our community, by partnering with the Cool-aid society and supporting their programs we are ensuring a vibrant and healthy youth who support and respect each other.

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