A North End daycare is continuing to move forward on expansion plans to meet the growing needs of children and mothers in the community.
On Thurs., Aug. 8, the Anne Ross Day Nursery at Mount Carmel Clinic held a grand reopening of its facility to show off its recent renovations to a throng of community members, staff, and local politicians.
The nursery has been busy stretching every last penny of the $800,000 it fundraised to gut and renovate its facility from top to bottom in the name of accessibility and safety, from new, expanded playrooms and equipment to new flooring, a fire sprinkler system and a fresh coat of paint on all the walls.
"It’s helped staff create an environment that’s soothing and serene for the children to explore in their environment," said Elaine Morris, director of early learning and parenting programs.
On top of more cosmetic renovations, the centre installed a new wheelchair lift, which will allow kids and parents with mobility issues to access the facility’s basement for motor skill development and physical therapy.
The centre’s kitchen — used for the centre’s hot lunch program and cooking and baking lessons for kids — also saw some major upgrades, with all new appliances and cabinetry, along with a new fridge and freezer. To top it off, all bathrooms were upgraded, a new computer was purchased, and a locker area was created for the children. At the end of the day, the centre also boosted the number of child-care spaces from 40 to 48.
"One of the biggest things with young children is they need to have a space that’s their own that makes them feel welcomed and that they belong," Morris said.
"We’re trying to make this a place that’s a home away from home."
All the upgrades are only the first phase of expansion plans the clinic is planning for the centre.
The next phases include a new program called the Mothering Project for women who are involved in substances while they are pregnant, said centre executive director Bobbette Shoffner. Part of the project will include a new infant toddler centre with 12 to 16 new spaces, she added.
"We went to our families in our community, talked to them and what we heard was needed was a program for women who were involved with substances and their children coming out of that," Shoffner said.
Anne Ross, who pushed Mount Carmel from humble beginnings in the late 1920s into the community health hub it is today, was integral in understanding the importance of healthy children for the community, Shoffner said.
"What we hope to do is support the families and children pre-birth all the way through infancy and preschool and then connect into the school-age program (at David Livingstone Community School) across the street.
"We really want to support children on their life path before they’re even born," she said.
The second phase of the project will cost up to $1.5 million. Though the clinic will be looking for government funding, it will also be looking for small, private donors like the Harley Owners Group Chapter 9024.
The nursery has been the group’s "charity of choice," since the early 1990s, said member Ted Penner, who attended its reopening. Each year, the 150-member group donates between $1,200 and $1,500 to the centre, and has added more than 1,500 books to its library.
"We know the kids need this facility for educational purposes, for social purposes, and sometimes just to get a good meal," said Penner, who grew up in the North End.
For more, visit www.mountcarmel.ca