Parents of young children in Williams Lake will now have access to a brand new one-stop early years virtual centre.
The centre will be primarily online at wlchild.ca and supported by social media, said co-ordinator Joanne Meyrick of the Women’s Contact Society during a joint presentation to city council with LeRae Haynes from Success by 6.
Locally the Early Childhood Development Network, Children First and Success by 6 collaborated on the proposal, with support from most of the programs providing services to children in Williams Lake.
Funding applicants were asked to tailor the proposal to the unique needs of their communities and a group in Williams Lake identified that while there are many programs and services for families with young children, many families aren’t aware of them or aren’t accessing them fully, Meyrick said.
Completed surveys from 75 service providers, parents and extended family showed that most online information is not local and often programs are offered during hours when parents are not available.
“We are hoping that our website, being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will help to alleviate that here,” Meyrick said.
Categories covered by the website include childcare resources, Aboriginal resources, expectant parents resources, parent and child activities, crisis support, and health and development.
Every month will feature a different program and a calendar of events.
One event that’s new and exciting for the community is the first-ever Baby Fest, taking place on Nov. 19 in the Gibraltar Room from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We will welcome every child born here in 2015,” said Haynes as she thanked the city for its support of the event. “A special thank you to Mayor Walt Cobb who will be there to kiss babies and give them a special gift.”
Haynes invited all of city council to attend in whatever way they want, even if it’s “just to hang out with babies.”
To complete the joint delegation Haynes, accompanied by John Visentin, Mary Thomas, Dena Baumann and members of G.A.D. Zukes, performed a song she wrote for awareness and education in the early years.
“It has, I feel very humbled by this, a great deal of provincial attention and will be distributed throughout the province,” Haynes said of her song which encourages parents to put aside the screens — the iPads, iPhones and have face to face time with their babies.
“That’s where we learn language, that’s where we learn hearing, understanding, communication and social skills,” Haynes said.
Her song — I Know You Love Me — is how a baby would address a parent if he or she could.
Haynes’ song will be launched at the upcoming Baby Fest where there will be CDs available, thanks to funding from United Way.
To see the song being performed at city hall, check the Tribune’s Facebook page.