By Tim Kalinowski
When Kreative Kidz Early Learning Centre (ELC) came to Gull Lake last May it filled a badly needed niche in the community. For years now Gull Lake has seen increasing numbers of young families moving into town. Its school numbers are growing. The economy is growing. But until Kreative Kidz established itself last year there was no government licensed early childcare facility.
“Kids are the future of the community,” explains Rebecca Anderson, director of Kreative Kidz. “What we are trying to accomplish here is to really build that character in the kids and really build responsible citizens. And the families a lot of the businesses around Gull Lake are trying to draw as employees, they have kids as well. Without a centre like ours it’s easier to say live in Swift Current and make the commute to somewhere else. Whereas if they know we as community have licensed childcare and there’s a K-12 school, they think, there’s everything I need in this community. It makes it more attractive to families to locate themselves here instead of those larger centres.”
To that end, Kreative Kidz ELC applied for and received a license to operate an early childcare facility in Gull Lake at a temporary location at the Knox United Church until a more permanent establishment could be built. Anderson says from the beginning the intent was to build a dedicated space for early learning in Gull Lake. And so the Kreative Kidz board approached the Chinook School Division and received permission to construct this new facility on school division land in Gull Lake, and has now purchased a building to move into the community. Both measures designed to defray the costs of that expansion as much as possible.
“We need to have our own building and we are planning a building that is larger than required for the square footage for the number of spaces we have. Just knowing down the road, if we need to expand our childcare spaces, it makes it that much easier to do so. When you have kids, the more space you have, the better…Because play is kids’ work; that’s when they are learning and doing everything. So that’s really the kind of philosophy that we try and take here: Play is serious work.”
Anderson says Kreative Kidz hopes to be up and running on the east side of the school tennis courts in its new facility with its own designated children’s play area later this year. Anderson is excited about the future impact this expanded facility is going to have on community life by serving the needs of local families and their children.
“First of all, we are meeting the immediate needs of families in the area,” explains Anderson. “We’re in a time when most families have both parents working so they need to have somewhere for their kids to go. Now, we try to accomplish that in a way where we are meeting all the development needs of each of those children. So we’re not just here changing diapers and feeding and making sure they make it through the day. We’re trying to make sure that we are providing an environment and activities and interactions that are going to meet all the developmental needs of each of those children so they are becoming better people, better citizens and they are learning and having something new happen every day.”
Anderson goes on to explain that Kreative Kidz Early Learning Centre is a non-profit organization which relies on the Saskatchewan government for about half its operational funding while the other half has to come from local support in the community itself. To raise funds to keep the ELC running, and pay for its expansion in the community, the Kreative Kidz board has looked at a variety of fundraising options and will be holding a series of fundraisers throughout this year to help defray the costs of constructing and operating the new ELC. Fundraisers such as the Silent Auction going on through February where locals can bid on a Broncos team-signed jersey donated by The Advance and the Broncos, or a Dallas Stars jersey signed by Brett Hull which was donated by Chuck Zoerb.
Anderson says the goal is to eventually raise $150,000 for Kreative Kidz Early Learning Centre.
“When you are approved for licensed childcare spaces here the Ministry of Education allocates a certain number of dollars per space. And so the amount we were given for that is not going to cover even half of what our estimated costs for our facility are. And so that extra funding needs to come from somewhere. We are a non-profit organization. We do not make money on the fees – they just cover what are costs are.”
Anderson hopes the broader community will help support these expansion efforts.
“Our Board is looking at what other fundraisers we can do, and we are applying for grants,” says Anderson. “We have also made a request with the Town of Gull Lake and they are going to be accepting third party donations for us so if there are corporations or individuals who want to make donations that can be done through the Town, and they can be issued a tax receipt.”
Those wishing more information on Kreative Kidz Early Learning Centre, or those wishing to make a donation, can contact Rebecca Anderson at 306-672-CARE (2273)