Parents and children celebrated the new and improved Periwinkle Children’s Centre at an open house on October 18. Recent renovations created space for eight more children to play and learn with the centre’s dedicated educators.
It was a long time coming. Work began in 2022, with the goal of opening for September of that year. But supplies and tradespeople were hard to come by, so Heike Reeg-Smith, lead educator and manager of the centre, loosened up the deadline.
“Planning for a September 2023 opening turned out to be an excellent decision that allowed us to pay great attention to detail as the project progressed,” she said.
Renovations include a 600 square-foot addition, an accessible bathroom, and a wheelchair ramp. A shed for toy storage will be completed soon.
Children continued to attend during the renovations.
“Continuing to run the centre while construction was happening was an enriching experience for everyone,” said Reeg-Smith. “The children loved watching the tradespeople at work and seeing their new daycare building grow.”
Periwinkle offers a Waldorf-inspired program for children.
“[The program] supports the whole child in their growth and development,” said Reeg-Smith. “It beautifully prepares them for kindergarten or other learning journeys.”
Reeg-Smith said the goal is to make Periwinkle a home away from home for the children.
The Kaslo and Area D community was extremely helpful, which made all the difference, said Reeg-Smith. Volunteers did all the fundraising, through grant writing and an online auction that raised $3,500. The Village of Kaslo and the Columbia Basin Trust offered much support, while the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund contributed most of the funding. The accessible washroom and ramp were funded by the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund.
“A very experienced carpenter committed to our project even when our plans were uncertain,” said Reeg-Smith. “We were also touched by the generous amount of time given to us by a semi-retired electrician and a skilled woodworker.”
Other supporters include the Community Fund of North Kootenay Lake Society, Kootenay Savings Community Foundation, Western Financial Group, and the RDCK.
The Periwinkle building is 100 years old, so even with the new renovations, there is still some work to be done. Reeg-Smith says they are currently pursuing grants to fund projects such as the east-facing porch, which provides an extension of the play space, and the refinishing of the wood floor.
Periwinkle is run by the Kootenay Lake Independent School Society, a registered charity and non-profit society. Reeg-Smith said the centre is fully enrolled with 16 children, but she and her team will be able to welcome up to 20 once they are comfortable in the new space.
Rachael Lesosky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice