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Surrey parents rally to save StrongStart program for young children


Dozens of parents rallied in Surrey Wednesday night, pushing to save an early education program that helps ease kids into kindergarten.

Surrey's StrongStart program is at risk of ending completely, after already facing cutbacks. Parents gathered at the school district's education centre to protest and more than 3,500 people have signed a petition calling for more funding.

Parents say the program, which offers free, play-based learning activities children under the age of five, makes a significant difference for their kids.

"We just felt like we couldn't just sit back and let this program shut down," Peter Shen, event organizer, said at the rally. "It's been such a big part of our life."

Earlier this month, Anne Whitmore, Surrey District Parent Advisory Council president, voiced her concerns about the potential loss of the program. She said her children attended StrongStart and it was instrumental in their educational success. 

"It's a safe environment, there were structured activities," Whitmore told CTV News. "Fraser Health might come by and do education for parents or caregivers, so it was a really wonderful place for families."

Whitmore said the district has been funding StrongStart through another kindergarten preparedness program, ReadySetLearn, but the need has outgrown the money available.

Rally organizers said the fate of the program is expected to be decided in the coming days.

There are 25 StrongStart programs across Surrey and dozens more throughout the province.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Yasmin Gandham Top Stories

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