The Williams Lake Food Policy Council recently received a grant of $1,200 from the Success by 6 program to help with development of the Lil Sprouts Children’s Learning Garden.
The children’s garden is part of the Williams Lake Community Garden on Carson Drive.
“It was a great pleasure for us to fund the Williams Lake Food Policy Council’s Lil Sprouts Children’s Learning Garden,” says LeRae Haynes, Success by 6 community co-ordinator.
“When we get to see the little folks with their hands in the dirt carefully planting their seedlings, nurturing and caring for them in their special garden beds and finally reaping a harvest, it’s incredibly inspiring.
“These are our future gardeners and farmers. They’re learning now what it means to not only grow their own food, but grow it sustainably and responsibly — that’s the future of our planet and this is where it all begins.”
The Children’s Learning Garden beds are available to all preschools and daycares in Williams Lake, as well as community members who would like a separate garden bed for their children, said the food policy council in its application for the grant.
The garden beds are lower than the adult beds, thereby making them more accessible to children.
Children of all ages will be encouraged to decorate signage and each garden bed, making it a truly unique and child friendly space.
Goals for the garden include providing many ways for children to be active, get a regular dose of fresh air and spend special family time.
Children and their families will have hands-on opportunities to learn about growing their own food.
It’s a great way for young families to unplug from their electronic gadgets and engage with nature, and with each other, in a safe, child-friendly environment.
Staff and children at Exploring the Puddle Early Learning Centre are regular and enthusiastic participants at Lil Sprouts Children’s Learning Garden.
Haynes says Success by 6 invests approximately $35,000 annually in programs in the Cariboo Chilcotin that benefit children 0-6 and their families.
Funded by the BC Credit Union, United Way and the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families, she says Success by 6 in Williams Lake funds an enormous range of programs and events.
“These include what we call our annual ‘legacy projects, such as the Family Fest, the Children’s Festival, the city’s Bike Rodeo, Baby Fest and more,” Haynes says. “We also accept proposals from a wide range of agencies and organizations for putting on things such as paediatric first aid, infant massage, preschool nature programs and playground upgrades.
“We support programs for arts, culture, health, nature, literacy and family connection — things that are offered free to the community to enhance the lives of young children.
“We also focus on transportation, long recognized as a significant barrier in our region: we look for proposals that include transportation for families to attend the event, and we have a gas voucher program in place.”
Haynes says Success by 6 is part of the local Early Childhood Development Network, which hears from front line workers what the gaps and needs are in the community for families with young children.
During the past two years, Haynes says Success by 6 has also helped to put programs into place to address gaps and needs such as a health and development preschool screening tool, a preschool story/song time at the Seniors Village and a gas voucher initiative for families to attend health appointments or learning programs for their children.