How One CALP's Community Really is "Stronger Together"

Posted:18 November 2015

Author: Val Rathjen, Community Learning Network

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the diversity of CALPs within our province and the common threads that knit them all together. From the larger urban centres to the small rural communities, programs and learners may be different but the heart of those working within these organizations is the same. They all share a keen desire to see people’s lives changed and a willingness to put in the time and energy to make that possible.

As I’ve had the opportunity to visit many different CALPs within my region I have seen time and time again some common themes that have brought opportunity and possibility to local learners. While there isn’t a one size fits all plan that can guarantee success, there are some key pieces that can place an organization on the right path:

  • Committed Coordinators and staff willing to go the extra mile to make opportunities possible
  • Engaged boards and other volunteers with vision and insight into their communities' needs and the desire to make a difference
  • Learners who are engaged and empowered
  • Active and effective community partnerships
  • A willingness to change and adapt – living out the principles of lifelong learning every day

While this is not an exhaustive list, I think it does highlight the most common elements of success that I have seen in my travels. One of the organizations in my region has a saying that captures the essence of these principles - “Stronger Together”. I can think of no other group of people who have a firmer understanding of this truth than those serving in CALPs across the province.

I recently had the opportunity to see firsthand the difference that these key principles can have on an organization and its ability to reach out to its community. Two Hills County Adult Learning Council has just transitioned from a small single room located in the County office to their own space that now includes a large classroom, board room, computer area, tutor space and an office for the Coordinator. As I toured the space and talked with Debbie Tupechka (pictured left), the Coordinator, and some of the board I was in awe of the transformation and inspired by the vision that made this all possible.

It wasn’t about one person but rather a whole community. It was about learners sharing their talents and skills to help renovate a space. Board members, staff and community volunteers donating hours of their time to transform a dark basement into an inviting and engaging space. It was about partnerships and the power of working together. While they have only begun to see the impact this new space will have as they serve their learners, there is no question that this organization understands the principle of Stronger Together.

That is the power behind the work we do, and it brings the rewards of seeing someone gain a new skill, reach a goal or savour the pride of overcoming what seemed like an unbeatable challenge. I applaud the dedication and the hours that CALPs in every corner of Alberta put in to make these moments possible.

Val Rathjen
Regional Support Staff
East-Central Alberta

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