The Williams Lake community is enriching the lives of local children, increasing their self-esteem and connecting them to their community, says Exploring the Puddle Day Care owner Faren Rouse.
Rouse, along with co-owner Sheila Nairn and fellow teacher Kristen Wallick, run Exploring the Puddle on Third Avenue.
Starting with 12 kids when it opened in June 2013, Exploring the Puddle has expanded to more than 30 families and to four separate programs, including preschool sessions.
They’ve also added an adventure summer day camp program for kids, and expanded their garden experience to two plots at the Memory Garden on Carson Avenue.
With all the exciting changes and growth at Exploring the Puddle, one thing that has remained is the focus on the community.
“It has gone far past our expectations. Everyone has been so inclusive and willing to welcome our kids as part of the community,” Rouse explains.
“We are a Reggio-Emilia inspired facility, an approach to learning that sees a child as a capable being, not an empty vessel.
“Part of the Reggio-Emilia philosophy is community involvement, and the Williams Lake community has been unbelievably responsive, from donating items for re-purposing, to sharing their time with the kids and making them feel they’re part of the community.”
She says response has been enormous, adding that from non-profit to business, and from community organizations to the city, everyone makes sure the kids get everything out of whatever activity they’re doing that day.
“This includes people like Farmer’s Market vendors, the CRD librarians, the Williams Lake Food Policy Council, Glen Arbor residents and Horsefly Nursery,” she says.
“We get so much help from Save-On-Foods, the Potato House, the Arts Council, Scout Island, Adventure Charters, and more.”
When it comes to destinations for Exploring the Puddle adventures, the Bean Counter is a favourite. “Every time we walk by there to go to the library, the kids say they want to go in for a ‘coffee’ and see Cindy (Lachapelle),” Rouse says.
“They love to watch the bottles being sorted at Amanda Enterprises, were thrilled when Beamac delivered big tires with their big crane truck to use in our playground, and always enjoy watching the city trucks at work,” she notes.
“The Station House Gallery and the museum are huge favourites for Exploring the Puddle kids. When the gallery did its Hair exhibit we did our hair all crazy and went for a visit.”
She added that everywhere they go, people take the time to talk to the kids and explain things to them. “A huge hit for the kids was when the Indoor Rodeo not only welcomed them to the Cowboy Carnival, they also invited them to watch the dump trucks bringing the dirt into the arena.
“These generous people have enriched our children by seeing them the same way we do — as part of our community,” she says. “They’re investing more than money and more than things: they’re investing themselves.”