United, we can help students succeed - United Way Alberta Capital Region

United, we can help students succeed

June 20, 2021


What happens when a global pandemic disrupts how local schools support the well-being of vulnerable students?
Our community responds.
Ivor Dent School Principal Lynn Schlacht knows that her school is more than just a place for children to learn. It also provides food security, technology, connection, and mental health supports for its at-risk students.

When pandemic restrictions first started, she worried about how families from her northeast Edmonton school would cope with the impending challenges.

“Our first thought was not about learning, but about how our kids and families were going to deal with not having access to the strong relationships and supports at our school,” she shared.

Mother putting a mask on her child, who is also wearing a backpack. Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Working together to support youth through the pandemic
Ivor Dent School provides wraparound supports through the All in for Youth (AIFY) initiative. This collaboration of school-based services is funded through United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, currently supporting five Edmonton schools.

For the last four years, AIFY has supported over 2,000 vulnerable students per year in the Edmonton area on their journey to high school graduation and a life of opportunity.

This collaboration allows school and AIFY staff to work as a team to address the complex needs children and families experience when living with low income.

Thanks to the ongoing support of caring members of our community, AIFY schools were able to quickly respond to emerging needs when the pandemic hit.

Schools provided food hamper deliveries and computers so students can learn at home and access therapist support. Staff reached out via wellness checks and online coaching. Supports were put in place to make sure families didn’t face the challenges of the crisis alone and students weren’t left behind.

But there is much work to be done. The ongoing stress of the pandemic – job loss, uncertainty, reduced access to supportive relationships – are amplifying needs. These stressors are also disproportionately affecting youth in serious and potentially long-term ways.

a principal holds a stack of chromebooks donated to an all in for youth school
More students and families than ever before are seeking support from All in for Youth.
A parent recently shared the value of these supports. When her youngest started expressing suicidal thoughts this past year, AIFY staff counselled him through the crisis. They also kept in close contact to make sure the family was okay.

“A lack of supports would be tragic and could result in severe outcomes for those most in need, such as suicide or students running away from home,” Lynn fears.

Together, we can unite to support our most vulnerable students and their families. All in for Youth ensures they’re connected, fed, and supported to stay on track for successful futures.

So, what happens when a pandemic threatens the well-being of vulnerable students in our community? We rally together to do local good and ensure no one gets left behind.

Thank you to the generosity of EPCOR, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, and Canadian Western Bank for providing a match to help All in for Youth reach its goal of raising $500,000!