100 Mile House’s long-running Kindergym program has been officially rolled into SD27’s wider StrongStart program.
Catherine van der Mark, SD27’s director of instruction for inclusive education, said the move comes to streamline their early learning programming. Elke Baechmann, Kindergym’s head organizer, has taken a position as 100 Mile Elementary’s StrongStart educator.
Having it at the 100 Mile Community Hall as a separate program was unsustainable, according to van der Mark. “We noticed on Thursdays when Kindergym ran, the attendance at 100 Mile Elementary StrongStart was really low.”
Rather than have the two programs compete against one another, van der Mark said it made sense to combine them.
The Kindergym program started a little over a decade ago as a partnership between the community and SD27. Every Thursday morning parents of children aged one to four would head to 100 Mile House Community Hall for activities including colouring and playing with toys to promote gross motor skills.
StrongStart, however, operates five days a week out of 100 Mile Elementary School, typically from 9 a.m. to noon. van der Mark said the drop-in style and family focus are similar to Kindergym and include gross motor skill building activities, literacy and activities suitable for children between the ages of one to four.
“Once they move into school age they’re into our kindergarten programs within their community,” van der Mark said.
The StrongStart program begins in 100 Mile House near the end of September and runs until the end of the school year.