With 330 Strong Start locations in the province, Lumby may be the latest community to benefit from the early childhood development program.
StrongStart BC early learning programs provide school-based services for adults and their children, aged birth to five, at no cost to families. Children have access to high-quality learning environments and benefit from social interactions while the adults who accompany them learn new ways to support learning, both at the program and at home to help children get ready for success in kindergarten.
At Tuesday’s Vernon School District meeting, director of instruction Joe Rogers said the province has asked for proposals for new Strong Start BC programs, and the district is proposing JW Inglis elementary school in Lumby as the district’s newest location. The program currently runs at Alexis Park, Harwood, Okanagan Landing and Mission Hill elementary schools.
The Wonders on Wheels (WOW) bus that operated as a mobile Strong Start centre is no longer operated by the district and is now owned and run by the Boys and Girls Club for community events and summer reading in the park events.
“The ministry will be adding 10 more centres to the province,” said Rogers. “One of the Ministry of Education’s requirements is that EDI (Early Development Instrument) scores are used to help identify vulnerable children, and schools with Strong Start programs had high EDI scores.”
With an estimated 250 children ages zero to five in the neighbourhood, JW Inglis is well-suited to a Strong Start program, said Rogers. In a recent survey for the Early Childhood Development Coordinator, parents requested school readiness programs.
“There is limited parent participation programs currently available,” said Rogers. “So we’ll put the proposal to the ministry and hope for the best.”
In making the proposal, the district has consulted with Gay Jewitt at the White Valley Community Resource Centre and ECD coordinator and Village of Lumby Councillor Tracy Williamson.
“This is an incredible program and sometimes just getting the little ones into the school atmosphere is more powerful for school-age readiness than anything I am doing,” said Williamson.
And having a Strong Start centre in Lumby would also serve the community of Cherryville.
“Lumby is a growing community with kindergarten enrolment projected to increase from 42 to 55 to 65 over the next few years,” said Rogers. “It attracts many young families that would benefit from the supports and resources offered through a Strong Start centre.”