Nearly 20 years ago, our Founder, Ilona Boyce, saw that something more was needed for children from backgrounds of poverty and trauma. Young children, three, four, and five years old, who came from families challenged by neglect, abuse, or poverty, were left behind. These children were, on average, 70 to 90 per cent delayed in normal development. Living in a constant state of stress and fear, their brains were not receptive to learning, so they continued to fall behind. Left without help, these children wandered the school halls by Grade 3, their window of learning severely compromised.
In 1996, the doors of our first EvenStart program were opened in downtown Calgary. With a donated van, a small budget and more than a healthy dose of optimism, we began our journey to assist these children in understanding their value and realizing their potential.