-By Rizwana Shaikh, Federation of Calgary Communities
The Glenwest Centre for Children, which opened in 1983, have until June 2019 to relocate. Originally, the center was in Glenbrook School, but in 2003 they had to move because of a fire in the school. Since then, they’ve been sharing the building with Abundant Life Church, continuing to provide out of school childcare.
Glenwest is an accredited non-profit center that currently cares for 48 children ranging from ages five to 12 years old, which is roughly 35 families, during the school year. They serve five local schools for out of school care and have fully licensed staff to operate their bus and van for the children’s transportation. They also provide summer camps with fieldtrips around the city. Their current facility features an onsite gymnasium, and access to nearby playgrounds.
Bryce Adamson, who is the president of the board of directors for Glenwest Centre for Children, says their lease with Abundant Life Church expires in December and since the Church is selling the property the new buyers may not allow them to stay.
“The church is doing its best to keep us informed,” says Adamson.
The available spaces within their community are out of their price range. Aside from affordability issues, a suitable location on the market also comes with competition from private and commercial businesses, which is why they’re looking for a community-based facility to call home.
“We find ourselves stranded, not being able to afford the rent (for commercial space),” says, Violeta Petri, the executive director at the center.
She explains that the board of directors along with parent volunteers have formed a relocation committee to find and contact potential new locations.
The children at Glenwest are taught using an emergent curriculum which gives them activities that emerge from their interests. Petri remembers the children were interested in Magic cards and each wanted their own set, so they came up with an idea to gather the funds.
“Children organized a bake sale to raise money,” Petri laughs.
She describes Glenwest Centre for Children as “special” because it exposes the children to the community allowing them to form friendships they otherwise couldn’t. She says they “raise” their children with a strong sense of community, focusing on allowing children to make new healthy and safe connections with other local children.
“Some children have summer camp friends.”
Petri says many families have been loyal to the center for years, including Brandolynn Bentley, who’s three children have been in the program. Bentley recommends Glenwest Centre for Children to her family and friends and says the program has been “amazing” for her and her children. It’s helped them learn and develop new skills and make new friends.
“My kids absolutely love it. (the program)”
Her three children each recall a different favourite aspect of the program, with her eldest loving the field trips and extra reading help, her middle one loving that their cousin is also in the program, and her little one loving the bus rides.
The Board of Directors at the center are constantly looking at every available option to keep the program running smoothly despite the ongoing challenges they face. Their focus is to ensure the program can continue serving the local community.
“Our mandate is to provide affordable and community supported childcare to the Glenwest area,” urged Adamson.
Lisa Walsh, the program supervisor at Glenwest Centre for Children has been with the organization for eight years and believes the program is an important asset to the community.
“I’ve grown with the program and seen a lot of good,” says Walsh.
As a childcare center, they will need to apply for approval from the City of Calgary once they find a new location. This process can take a minimum of three months. After this they would need to inform parents and pack up the place.
“We really need to know about the space six months ahead so that we can adequately make sure we are moving into the location,” says Adamson.
Everyone at Glenwest has been devoted to ensuring the program can continue helping families in the community and resolve their location problem. They have written a letter asking community locations nearby for help. If you would like to help, or have useful information, please contact Glenwest Director Violeta Petri.
Glenwest Centre for Children
Address: 3325 – 49 Street SW Calgary, AB T3E 6M6
Office: (403) 240-2992 Cell: (403) 990-0552
Fax: (403) 240-2995