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The Ottawa Mission`s Stepping Stones Learning Centre is a small room on the top floor of our Client Services Centre located next to the main shelter. It`s not a formal `classroom` but rather a place where men and women can find support for a number of different educational hurdles – whether it`s completing online courses towards a high school diploma, or getting help with basic literacy. But education is much more than a textbook, and Stepping Stones is also a place where people can connect with our community in a social way. The French Club is just one example.

Every Wednesday afternoon at Stepping Stones you can hear the laughter mixed with beginner French pouring out of the classroom. The French Club meets weekly to learn basic French grammar skills and vocabulary. After the two teachers – SSLC’s teacher teamed with a Francophone tutor – introduce the theme of the day, and the new phrases have been practiced, the students get the opportunity to speak in their second language. Even more exciting, they play games that highlight key terminology regarding subjects such as the weather, food and eating, transportation and more.

During each eight week session, the students are invited on a field trip. Outings such as visiting “la cabane à sucre” or “La Musée de l’Aviation et de l’Espace du Canada” are so much fun. This week, the students had the opportunity to have “un pique-nique” followed by a concert of Broadway and jazz music put on by the Statistics Canada Choir at Tunney’s Pasture. Fantastique!!

Activities such as these can help people in shelters, or people ‘at-risk’ of homelessness, form new interests and friendships, and gain much needed self-confidence. They also give people a sense of being part of the community. For all of these reasons, they make a big difference in the lives of those who often have very little to look forward to.

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