They’re calling it Little Bear’s Childcare Centre.
The small Shuswap town of Sicamous has never had a daycare centre before, despite a growing need. The local population works irregular hours, as the region is outdoorsy and tourism-oriented, so for many years parents have been calling for a solution. That’s where the District of Sicamous, supported by PLAY Shuswap, a working group of physical literacy advocates, came in. The District applied for and received $884,000 from the Province of B.C. to bring Little Bear to life.
“I’ve written very small grants before, but nothing like this. To be able to write a grant and have the backing of your mayor and council, as well as my operations manager and all of our staff, was probably the highlight of my career,” said Jamie Sherlock, recreation and events manager for the District of Sicamous.
“I raised my three kids here in this community and child care has always been an issue, so I’ve seen a lot of families struggle. My husband worked days so I worked nights. Lots of dads worked away, and there were lots of single moms who needed a break.”
That’s why the new centre, which was constructed from a former church, offers out-of-the-box hours including evenings. It was also designed with physical literacy in mind, so that participants learn their fundamental movement skills and stay active while in care. Sherlock said this was a key element of the vision, since her eyes have been opened to some of the realities of sedentary living and the importance of teaching kids early, as a member of the PLAY Shuswap working group.
“I’d never heard the term physical literacy until about two years ago, when Interior Health invited me to join the PLAY Shuswap table. It’s been a big learning curve for me, because I come from a sports background and take for granted that kids know how to throw a ball, do stretches, and all that. My kids were always very involved in sports,” she said.
“Learning the facts of how poorly our country is doing with physical literacy was an eye-opener for me, and it made me figure out how to incorporate it into our programming.”
Sicamous councillor Bob Evans believes this will be a boon for the community in a number of different ways.
“I was thrilled that we got the grant because it means Sicamous could have a really state-of-the-art, brand new, fully licensed daycare that could take care of the kids of people who work hard and give them a place to belong,” he said.
“Plus it could attract new people to the community because it would give folks a chance to know they have a great daycare available to them … This is the Taj Mahal of daycares in the Shuswap.”
For the ribbon cutting, Mayor Terry Rysz and daycare manager Penny Deeter emphasized how much the daycare was needed for the community and thanked the Province of B.C. for making it a reality in the midst of COVID-19.
A number of community partners participated in constructing the facility. As they cut the ribbon, Rysz reaffirmed, “It’s been an awesome project and it was majorly needed, and it will be a super addition to the community right now.”