Shining a light on Little Stars
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This article was published 04/11/2022 (207 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Imagine my delight at hearing the words “Crescentwood to the rescue” while attending an event honouring a child-centred educational centre like no other in the North End of Winnipeg.
City councillor Ross Eadie (Mynarski) credited fellow councillor John Orlikow (River Heights) for helping make Little Stars Playhouse, at 681 Selkirk Ave., a reality by extending the organization’s deadline to build on city-donated land from two to five years. This extension enabled the centre, an initiative of Women Healing for Change to achieve the culmination of nine years of fundraising by a dedicated team who believe children are our future.
Now open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Little Stars has a wait list for families with children aged two-to-five-years-old who want to know more about learning through play from the executive director, three child-care assistants, two early childhood educators and several pre-screened volunteers. The Playhouse currently serves 24 pre-schoolers and four babies.
The recent grand opening was a celebration of movers and shakers. The Manitoba Métis Federation helped get the project “over the finish line,” according to Little Stars board member Gerrie Prymak.
It took a caring community to make Woman Healing for Change’s dream of a centre for North End children come true via partnerships with Graffiti Art Programing, Eddie’s Place, Carpenters’ Union, KGS Engineers, Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 23, and the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Association for Young Children Manitoba to name but a few.
“We cannot lose another generation of Indigenous children to systems,” said Damon Johnston, president of the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg. “Early childhood education is critical. It is the first opportunity for children to be on a path to higher education. Early childhood centres like Little Stars Playhouse can identify issues and do interventions.”
Guest speakers at the grand opening wove the story of what is possible when people work together. Children’s entertainer Al Simmons extolled the importance of play in overall human development. Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux stressed the importance of early learning opportunities and Bear Clan Patrol representative Michael Thiessen explained how their food den on Selkirk Avenue supports the families who attend Little Stars.
It is noteworthy that the first five Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission relate directly to child welfare with prevention being the first step. There are over 4,000 children in the North End up to the age of four and most are Indigenous. At the Playhouse they can learn from a knowledge keeper, an art specialist and can learn drumming. The children and their caregivers can also partake of a community garden and field trips to parks and farms to learn about nature.
To support Little Stars and make an investment in all our futures, donations can be made via www.canadahelps.org (search for WHFC) or by cheque earmarked for Woman Healing for Change to United Way Winnipeg, 580 Main St., Winnipeg, Man. R3B 1C7.
Crescentwood community correspondent
Heather Emberley is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. Email her at email@example.com if you have a story suggestion.