ENGLISH LANGUAGE ACCESSIBILITY PROJECT
A 15-month project at the Argenteuil Health and Social Services Centre (CSSS d’Argenteuil), funded through the Health Canada Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF / FASSP), and run under the auspices of the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), has officially terminated, but the legacy of improved acccessibility to services will remain evident. Indeed, additional courses for select groups of employees have continued, thanks to funding provided through Health Canada / CHSSN / McGill University / Agence de la santé et des services sociaux des Laurentides.
The objectives of the project were to increase access for the English-speaking residents of the region to health care services in their language, forge stronger links between the health care network and the community and respond to an expressed request for enhanced second language training by employees of the Health Centre.
Representatives of various groups linked to the English-speaking community were invited to address each of the groups participating in the FASSP Project second language training program at the Argenteuil Health and Social Services Centre (CSSSA); those attending the Closing Celebration on March 14, held to recognize the efforts made by the students, who were awarded certificates and a souvenir group photo, as well as a mark of appreciation for the input from the speakers, included (L-R): Program Coordinator Jim Warbanks, Marjorie Wilby, LES Principal Frédéric Greshner, Barbara Fodor, Rev. Audrey Morrison, Bill Murray, Joan Griffith, Kathy Cole, Frances Hammond, Louise Johnston, CSSSA Board Member Rose Marie Fairweather and Clifton Berry; other speakers who graciously accepted to address one of the groups were: LRHS Principal Scott Traylen, Steve O’Brien, Danielle Hay, Peter Haldimand, Careen Mackimmie, Cora Stephens, Robert Rodger, Elma Riley, Bob Todd, Stephen Lowe, Wayne Clark, Jamie McOuat, Barbara Fodor, Linda Cass-Jones, Victor Mohammed and Bob Duncan.
The three days of second language training offered to more than 150 employees proved to be a welcome initiative. A fundamental component was the visit to each group of a community representative to outline some aspect of community life with which they were familiar, from genealogy, to the role of community groups or volunteer activities, with speakers often providing vivid personal testimony, then responding to participants’ questions. That not a single community representative invited refused to participate is a strong indication of the perceived relevance for the community of this initiative.
Other components of the program included the translation and distribution of pertinent documents, assuring increased visibility through targeted communication and the upgrading of signage to more adequately inform the clientele.
Course Instructor Alain Lefèvre, who has an extensive teaching background, contributed a great deal of the course material and thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with students in the English second language classes; he received a token of appreciation from Program Coordinator Jim Warbanks.
The decision to offer language training to a large segment of the employees, with priority given to those who are in direct contact with the clientele proved fortuitous, as their increased confidence and satisfaction with the experience in class (over 85% satisfaction rating) favors their serving as ambassadors of the program objectives internally within the health care institution, while the twenty-five Argenteuil Health and Social Services Centre community representatives, who came in direct contact with the students, serve a similar function within the community.
The expanded accessibility to services resulting from the broad range of involved individuals well exemplifies the statement attributed to U.S. President John F. Kennedy: "A rising tide lifts all boats."
Tom and Anna Foreman added greatly to the ambiance of the evening by providing varied musical entertainment.
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