HIPPY, Literacy, and a Mother’s Story

HIPPY, Literacy, and a Mother’s Story

HIPPY, Literacy, and a Mother’s Story

The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) in Yellowknife is now on its third month and making waves of positive literacy change in the homes.  Moms express excitement about how their children are reading more, writing more, and learning new concepts in Math and Science.  Children love the hands-on activities and most of all look forward to every motor activity that gets them up and moving, a lot!   The program has brought a different dynamic in the HIPPY home that strengthens family bonds, not just with mother and child but everyone in the home.  The structure helps moms to manage their day smoothly. HIPPY kids celebrate success in school that makes them proud and happy. HIPPY moms are even prouder. Here is one mother’s story of her journey with HIPPY.

-Grayce Patino, HIPPY Coordinator


A HIPPY Mother’s Story

I moved to Yellowknife in July 2020 directly from Pakistan while seven months pregnant with my second child. After spending 14 days in quarantine with my four-year-old daughter Meraal, I moved in with my mom. The journey to get my daughter adjusted here has been challenging to say the least. Due to documentation issues, my husband could not travel with me, making the transition even harder. My mom had a tough work routine, and even though I had her support some days were hard for me. I remember breaking down and feeling alone and overwhelmed, though I tried to be strong for my children.

I was almost nine months pregnant when I met Karen on a fishing trip arranged by NWT Literacy Council. It was the first glimpse I got into the support system that NWT had to offer for new immigrants. My daughter Ayleen was born in September 2020. I found an amazing doula who helped me navigate through my birth and postpartum recovery. However, my older child felt neglected and detached due to the new addition in the family. As I recovered from my C-section, I wanted to become more actively involved in activities with my daughter, and opted to come for an all-ladies swim organized by the NWT Literacy Council. The cab vouchers provided were a pleasant surprise, and Meraal thoroughly enjoyed being at the pool.

It was at the pool that I met Grayce, who briefed me about the HIPPY Program. I had never heard of the program before and was intrigued. I started weekly sessions with Grayce, followed by the sessions with my daughter, and I soon noticed changes in Meraal’s attitude as I spent 30 minutes every day with her doing our activities. She looked forward to reading new books and doing various projects with me. Her entire demeanor changed; she became much happier, well-adjusted, and more confident. I, on the other hand, also felt so much better being able to connect with other parents going through similar challenges and having kids of the same ages.

It was through HIPPY that I was able to find a new friend who had moved from Mongolia to North America. Our daughters instantly became friends, and it was good to have someone to talk to, someone who could help me navigate through this difficult time. Even though I have been part of this program for only 10 weeks, I can feel the positive impact on both of us. Meraal has changed from a grumpy, cranky child, constantly missing her father and yearning to go back home, to a more confident, social, and easy-going kid looking forward to being reunited with her father here in Canada.

In the end, I feel like this program is so much more than structured activities with one’s kids. As humans, we crave connection and bonding with others, especially in a foreign and new place. This is exactly what this program offers: a chance to connect, meet new people and form lasting friendships. In the long run, I really hope that I can take this program forward, maybe even to a country like Pakistan, so that other people can benefit from it the way I have.


- Rabia Zulfiqar, HIPPY Mom

 CA, Financial Manager, Pepsicola Intl.


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