This difference between parents and providers may reflect different perspectives about the organization and delivery aspects of the program. On the other hand, adherence to a precise structure may have implications for reaching the target population and responsiveness to participants. If the program is experienced as being too recipe-like, this might compromise some of the positive qualities of the program identified by participants
Issues related to program flexibility and adaptability have also been faced in Toronto where cultural and social diversity is even more pronounced than it is in Edmonton. The Toronto program seems to have been successful in adapting Mother Goose to a wide range of group needs without giving up the essence of what the program is about. This has been possible through a commitment to listening to and learning from the diverse groups that the program has worked with. According to Celia Lottridge, program director of Parent-Child Mother Goose in Toronto, our response to diversity isn't to be more rigid but to be more flexible. There are, of course, limits to flexibility in that the underlying values of the program are always adhered to. Promotion of oral culture will continue to be an essential element of Rhymes That Bind. Clearly, the challenge here, as in Toronto, is to strike the right balance between the essence and the structure.
Implications: Sustainability and Integration in the Community Structure of the Program
Although Rhymes That Bind seems a simple program, it becomes a complex task to ensure that the program runs smoothly in a variety of locations and that the planning for offering programs gets done. All of the partners need to be aware of the work involved in planning and delivering Rhymes That Bind and be clear about their roles in this work. At the same time, there is a danger in being overly structured or bureaucratic, such that the simplicity of Rhymes That Bind is destroyed.
During the pilot phase of Rhymes That Bind in Edmonton, Prospects Literacy Association played the critically important role of coordination, advocacy, program promotion, training, fundraising and evaluation. Many partner organizations had no idea how extensive this coordination role was until they were asked what they would need from outside their own organizations in order to keep Rhymes That Bind running. When this role became apparent, some participants became concerned about the tension between running a simple, lovely program and the demands that come with such community initiatives.
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