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A Short History of the EYCDI…as experienced by Joanne Schroeder


As I am preparing to make a big change in my life, I am happy to be sitting down to reflect on the history of the Early Years Community Development Institute (EYCDI).  We always need to be open to change and new challenge, but I think we also benefit from reflecting on our roots.

My journey with early years community development really began in the early 90’s.  Newly relocated to Vancouver Island, I was contracted by the Ministry of Children and Families (as they were then known) to support the development of the just formed Child and Youth Committees across the island.  This was new work to me. Trained as a clinician, the world of community development was unknown and a bit daunting.  Luckily, some of the basics came easily: listen, learn, and facilitate connections.  What to do with the new found information and relationships was a little more complex, however, and I quickly realized that I was in need of a fresh skill set.  I embarked on some courses and lots of reading, but benefited most I think from connecting with colleagues who were working on similar initiatives.  Though I didn’t know it then, those concepts of shared learning and mentorship really framed the development of the EYCDI many years later…but I am getting ahead of myself.

I continued over the next decade or so to work on Vancouver Island.  While I continued to learn about community collaboratives, I also became increasingly passionate about the importance of early child development as a critical determinant of the life chances of us all.  I became convinced that we really could make things better by working together, and intervening earlier.

In 2002, two amazing opportunities came my way.  Firstly, I met Clyde Hertzman.  I was bedazzled of course by his intellect, energy and commitment to social justice, and gob smacked that I was soon offered a part time job at HELP. I consider it one of the greatest gifts of my life that I spent the next eleven years working with and learning from Clyde.  Around the same time I was also asked to take on the newly identified role as Provincial Advisor to Children First. (Read more...)

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