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Estevan Early Years Family Resource Centre marks one year since some big changes

The Estevan Early Years Family Resource Centre (EEYFRC) is reaching its first full year in operation at its current location and with its new status.

ESTEVAN — Time goes by fast, but it flew even faster for the Estevan Early Years Family Resource Centre (EEYFRC), which is reaching its first full year in operation at its current location and with its new status.

At the end of January 2022, board members cut the ribbon at their new space at the Estevan Comprehensive School, marking the beginning of a new era for Estevan families.

The expansion of the previous Estevan Family Resource Centre, along with the following move to a new permanent location a year ago, became possible with funding through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Childcare Agreement for the creation of a new early years family resource centre in Estevan, which offers a range of drop-in and scheduled programming for all families with young children aged zero to five.

For the following year, the centre, which focuses on enhancing early years development, has been establishing and growing its offering.

"The first year in our new space has been great," said EEYFRC executive director Sydney Wanner. "We've been able to work out all the kinks of moving and have settled in nicely. Now that we are attached to the Estevan Comprehensive School, and lucky enough to share the neighbourhood with two elementary schools, we've definitely seen an increase of families visiting the centre."

Moving into a new space allowed for the creation of different development opportunities and also for diverse programming. Kids coming to the centre have many ways to play and learn. There is a great play area and a special sink for sensory experiences, a fully-equipped classroom and a kitchen for different programs involving food.

Since opening, the centre added a lot of new toys and changed the toy area quite a bit. A local business donated a magnetic sheet for patrons to experiment with. The centre also added a new wall structure for play.

Their programming has been enhanced extensively as well, as now they have more staff available. The community has also been great about coming in and doing different pop-up programs throughout the first year of operation. They had anything from toddler Zumba to a dentist offering a talk about children's teeth health, from Dr. Rebecca Holman talking about the pelvis and the effects of pregnancy with moms, to a speech therapist's and a financial planner's presentations.

The centre always welcomes community members who are interested in doing a pop-up program or sharing ideas with them, and if someone would like to offer a workshop or an idea for one, they are asked to call or email the EEYFRC.

The centre is really appreciative of the partnership with the provincial government, as it allowed them to focus on their programming more, ensuring it's accessible for everybody and not worrying as much about grant writing and fundraising.

Even in their first 12 months, the EEYFRC was able to reach hundreds of kids and their caregivers.

"In our busier months, October to June, we are fortunate in being able to work with around 650 children and caregivers monthly. July through September are always a bit slower as people are enjoying their summer breaks, being outside and getting back into the swing of the new school year," Wanner said.

"The things we've been most excited about are seeing families come back on a weekly basis while continuing to welcome new faces to the centre every month."

The centre has also been putting efforts into introducing its programs to the community and attracting new families. They currently have an incentive to help new people learn about them and encourage them to come and start using the space.

From Jan. 9-Feb. 10, if someone brings a friend that has never been to the family centre before, both get entered to win a prize, which is a felted crewneck and a $100 gift card to Recharge Massage for each caregiver.   

The centre has diverse programming for those ages zero to five happening every day. They have prenatal classes and children's CPR and Baby and Me for the youngest patrons and their caregivers, some different toddler activities, as well as pre-K yoga, stations, sensory events and much more. They have messy plays, which are usually really popular.

They do different dramatic plays every month, where they change their classroom into something like a grocery store or Santa's workshop for kids to come in and explore. They also regularly host different information sessions for caregivers. Besides, they have their drop-in and play open.

Heading into their second year, the EEYFRC is incorporating outside play for their families into their schedule starting in January. They are also planning on doing more family night events and bringing in as many programs and third-party facilitators as they can. 

They are currently working on their postpartum wellness boxes, which they hope to launch in February for everyone who may want to have one. If anyone in the community has products or services they want to be included in the EEYFRC's boxes, they are asked to reach out to the centre. The boxes will include information about the centre's programs, different resources that they have available, relevant coupons, different products and services available in the community, etc.

For more information about programming, events and incentives or to contact them, visit Estevan Early Years Family Resource Centre Inc. Facebook or Instagram pages.

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