By Matthew Liebenberg
The Family Resource Centre’s summer preschool program ended on a high note with support from the Rotary Club of Swift Current.
The Rotary sponsorship made it possible for about 35 children to enjoy an outdoor experience at the Sage Creek Prairie School during the final week of their summer program, Aug. 15-18.
They attended in two groups of between 15 to 18 children, with one group visiting on Monday and Wednesday and the other group on Tuesday and Thursday.
Rotarian Patrick Richards coordinated the partnership with the other two organizations, which resulted in a sponsorship of $500 to Sage Creek Prairie School for attendance cost and $250 to the Family Resource Centre in Swift Current for gas expenses and lunches.
He got a glimpse of how much fun children had on the final day, when he went out to the Sage Creek Prairie School site just outside Swift Current. He also received positive feedback from Family Resource Centre Executive Director Laura Beddome and Kristen Simonson, the director and lead educator at Sage Creek Prairie School.
“We at Rotary are so happy that we can support people doing such great things for our kids in Swift Current,” Richards said.
This is the second full season of outdoor activities offered by Sage Creek Prairie School. Activities. Learning take place in small groups based on the Forest School philosophy, which combines positive outdoor experiences with a child-led approach to promote hands-on learning.
The combination of an outdoor experience and a learning opportunity for young children matched some of the goals of Rotary, which made it possible for the club to partner with the other two organizations.
“Rotary international has a new focus on environmentalism, but community education has always been fundamental to our organization,” he mentioned.
According to Beddome the Family Resource Centre’s summer preschool program took place for seven weeks since July 4.
“We did a whole variety of exciting things throughout the summer with the kids, because the focus is giving them the opportunity to have experiences and learn through being in different environments and places and meeting different people,” she said.
She noted that the children had an enjoyable experience at Sage Creek Prairie School and it was a great way to conclude the program.
“We were so excited that one of those places could be Sage Creek Prairie School, because Kristen has just a remarkable setting there,” Beddome said. “She’s created a space that would give anyone of any age all sorts of inspiration to play and learn and grow, but especially young people who can be outside. They can make a mess, they can run around, they can encounter bugs and water and all the awesomeness that can be found while playing outside in a natural environment.”
She felt the setting and approach made it possible for children to have fun and to learn through their experiences.
“We know that the most effective learning takes place when adults create environments where kids can explore and play freely, where child-led play can take place,” she said. “So that environment that Kristen has set up at Sage Creek is just ideal for that, for young people to see things with their own eyes, to choose what they would like to play with, when and for how long, to see where it takes them, to ask questions, to get excited and just to have fun.”
The variety of activities provided by the Family Resource Centre’s summer preschool program is part of the organization’s goal to support families during those early years of parenting.
“We’re able to stay connected to the families of the kids participating in the pre-school program throughout the whole summer,” she said. “We can do things together as well and just stay connected so that we can be there to support each other. At Family Resource Centre we’re proud and privileged to be part of family support systems when they are in those very important early years with their kids, and there’s all kinds of unique things that we get to do together that’s supportive and helpful to families.”