NIPAWIN — After a soft opening in 2020, the Nipawin and Area Early Years Family Resource Centre was officially unveiled, serving families of youth to the age of five.
The centre was unveiled in a public event on Sept. 18 which included a petting zoo, face painting, dignitary speeches, a puppy play area and an author reading.
A family resource centre is a supportive space where young children up to age five and their parents or caregivers can connect and learn as well as get advice from childhood professionals at no cost.
Rennie Harper, Nipawin’s mayor, spoke at the event, calling the opening “many years in the making,” referring to the work leading up to it with KidsFirst Nipawin, and Nipawin Oasis Community Centre Co-op Ltd since 2002.
Funding for the centre in Nipawin was first announced in 2019, through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
In March 2020, the centre began offering virtual services including learning packages, and in September, 2021, the site officially opened their doors for in-person programming.
“From that time forward it’s been a very strong realization from many people that there needed to be a collective resource centre that people could access on a regular basis to get consistent information and sort of have all the resources in one location,” Harper said in an interview.
She attributed the centre with improving literacy levels, strengthening family engagement and increasing families’ capacities to support their children’s learning.
“During the COVID pandemic, the organization adapted to provide innovative support to families offering programs outdoors or reduced class sizes, and dropping off kits with books and craft supplies, puzzles and perishable food items, and assisting other organizations such as the Salvation Army.”
Fred Bradshaw, MLA for Carrot River Valley, also spoke at the event, bringing greetings on behalf of Dustin Duncan, the education minister, and the ministry. His speech focused on the number of community members who utilized the centre’s services.
Since online programming became active in 2020, the centre provided nearly 3,000 learning kits. Since opening earlier in the month, the centre served 1,200 children and adults in-person.
Jan Boughen, chair of the resource centre’s management committee, said that the numbers tell her that they have families that are committed to the development of their children, as well as that the centre is successfully supporting them and impacting school readiness.
“Children and families are our most important resource in our community. When we embrace them and support them we will see great things and that’s what this centre will do,” Boughen said.
The location on 200 First Avenue East, contains a gross motor space, where youth can use their muscles playing and moving around; a sensory fine motor, and science space; a unit block play area; drama play space; a kitchen; a literacy area; a multi-purpose space; as well as bookable professional offices.
The offices contain spaces for a speech and language pathologist, maternal mental health, children and youth mental health, a nurse practitioner and physical therapy.
The resource centre can be contacted at 306-862-7290. Boughen said a website is expected to go online in the coming weeks, in the meantime a full list of programming can be found through their Facebook page.