The New Westminster school district is getting set to open its doors to city residents through two community hubs at the new NWSS.
New Westminster Secondary School, which opened in January, was built with two “Neighbourhood Learning Centre” spaces – which the province funds to encourage school districts to provide programs and services for families and the wider community.
The two spaces at the new NWSS, a Welcome Centre and a Wellness Centre, are now nearing completion.
The Welcome Centre is designed as a hub to welcome people to the New Westminster community. It includes the school district’s central registration office and will also house a new city “navigator.” That navigator, a position funded by the City of New Westminster, will help families who are new to the country and to the area settle in the city and connect with the services they need.
Maryam Naser, the school district’s associate superintendent, noted the centre will be run in partnership with the city’s WINS (Welcoming and Inclusive New Westminster) committee.
She said the centre offers a number of “interesting opportunities” for bringing people together – such as book clubs and conversation circles for English language learners, settlement services for newcomers and workshops for community members.
Naser said the space is intended as a collaborative one, and the school district won’t be handling all the programming. The city has established a fund for organizations who want to bring programs and services to the centre and who need financial support to do so.
A small opening celebration will be held in early October.
Wellness Centre set for late October
A partnership-driven approach will also shape the future of the Wellness Centre, which is designed as a hub to support students, families and staff.
The school district has lined up partners including Child and Youth Mental Health, Fraser Health, Cameray and Lumara Grief and Bereavement Society (formerly Camp Kerry).
The centre is designed to help streamline supports for students and staff alike, including clinical counselling and mental health support, and also to help provide education for parents and families.
Naser noted it will likely be closer to the end of October before the space is fully functioning with all service providers up and running – in part because of the need to complete and furnish the space, and in part due to “significant staff challenges” in Child and Youth Mental Health.