In search of a better life, Leonardo, Claudia, and their son Miguel moved from Brazil to Kelowna in May 2017. They found an inclusive community after accessing subsidized child care through the YMCA of Okanagan’s Financial Assistance Program. Photo: Contributed

Brazilian family finds inclusivity in Kelowna

Okanagan Y eases transition for immigrant family

Leonardo Nogueria, his wife Claudia, and their son Miguel left political and economic instability in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and moved to Kelowna in May 2017 in search of a better, safer and more prosperous future.

Transitioning to their newly-adopted country was not easy, especially when they could not secure child care for Miguel.

“We did not qualify for the Child Care Subsidy in B.C. because we are not yet permanent residents,” Leonardo explained.

“I could not work full-time because someone needed to stay at home with Miguel while Claudia was in school. Needless to say, our funds were limited.”

Some of their stress was alleviated once they heard they qualified for the YMCA of Okanagan’s Financial Assistance program, which would provide subsidized child care for Miguel through the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.

Once Miguel turned three, they were able to secure a spot at YMCA’s Child Care Centre next to Kelowna Secondary School.

Although Miguel was unsure about attending child care full-time at first, he soon warmed up to the idea and developed a sense of comfort and belonging in the centre.

“We think it was because he could not understand or speak English, which made it very tough for him to communicate,” said Claudia.

“The teachers are amazing and supportive and really helped Miguel feel comfortable and transition to his new community. We can see the difference compared to when we first arrived as he is able to understand almost everything in English while we still teach him Portuguese.”

Considering their parents and other members of their family were back in Brazil, the Y became part of their extended family.

“We rely on the Y and are so thankful for their support during this difficult transition,” said Claudia.

“Without the Y, Leonardo could not work full-time, I could not study full-time and we would have to split our time to ensure someone is able to care for Miguel as we could not afford another child care. We are so incredibly grateful for the happiness the Y has brought us.”

By aiding struggling families, the YMCA of Okanagan aims to help more people reach their full potential.

“Seeing how we can positively impact children and families is inspiring, not only will Miguel make friends and be ready for kindergarten, but his parents also feel welcomed and supported by their community,” said Danielle Miranda, general manager of child care.

The YMCA of Okanagan currently has child care spaces available for children ages three to five at their Okanagan College campus location.

These spaces are open to the community and include a free YMCA Child Membership, a proven YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum, daily active play, healthy snacks and so much more. Call 250-491-9622 or visit ymcaokanagan.ca/childcare to learn more and register.

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