The StrongStart program at Marie Sharpe Elementary School has moved to a bigger space because it is so busy.
Last Friday children and their parents were enjoying the new space, which features a kitchen, a bathroom, a large boot room that accommodates strollers and an outdoor play area.
“We get on average 15 to 18 children a day with caregivers, but it can range anywhere from 10 to 27,” early child educator Tanya Johnson said before she cut the celebration cake. “It is drop-in with lots of participation from caregivers and parents. We are so incredibly thankful for the new room.”
Being in a school gives StrongStart the opportunity to take the children to the school’s library once a week, where they can sign out a book. They also go to the gym three times a week.
A new dramatic play area is very popular with the children, Johnson added.
“They are interested in animal rescue so we are building a play clinic area. Outside we have a nature-based outdoor area, for outdoor learning,”
Pointing to a blackboard in the room, Johnson said they have started brainstorming for ideas to revamp the outside play area.
So far there’s a mud kitchen and a bin for wood blocks with wood ends donated by Lake City Secondary School’s woodworking shop.
Scout Island Nature Centre recently donated some boardwalks that will be put outside through the pea gravel.
Parent Cassandra Guichon loves bringing her 20-month-old son Declan to StrongStart.
“We’ve been coming since he was three months old. He loves it. We come every day unless he’s sick,” Cassandra said. “He loves his teacher and there is lots for him to do.”
The day before Declan had painted for the first time and was anxious to try it again.
“His new word was apple the other day,” Cassandra said. “He picked it up from one of the kids. Watching him interact is fun.”
StrongStart is free and open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, except for stats and Pro-D days.