North End child-care centre set for completion
Volunteers By: Aaron Epp
Posted: 9:55 PM CDT Monday, May. 24, 2021
THE hard work of dozens of volunteers will come to fruition this summer.
Little Stars Playhouse, a child-care centre on Selkirk Avenue, is set to open in the coming months. The facility, which cost nearly $2 million, will be a safe place where children in the North End and their caregivers can play.
About 40 volunteers have been involved in planning and fundraising for the facility, says Gerrie Prymak.
“We’ve been working on this idea since February 2014, so we’re pinching ourselves because it’s really built now,” she says. “It’s so exciting.”
Prymak has volunteered with North End Stay and Play for the past 11 years. A program of a non-profit charity called Women Healing for Change, North End Stay and Play is a weekly program that encourages family bonding through play.
After renting space from different organizations for a number of years, Women Healing for Change decided to build its own facility for the North End Stay and Play program. Construction started last September and is about to be completed.
If all goes according to plan, families will be able to visit the facility starting in June or July. A grand opening ceremony will follow in August or September, if pandemic restrictions allow.
Terry Brown, a human resources professional, recalls getting involved as a volunteer six years ago after being inspired by Prymak’s vision for the project.
Brown, who sits on the Playhouse’s advisory board, has stayed involved over the years because of the passion he’s witnessed among other volunteers.
“It’s really nice to be around people with that passion,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to give back to the North End. Plus, as someone who grew up with a single mother, any project related to children always hits home and is close to (my) heart.”
Edda Livingston started volunteering at North End Stay and Play shortly after she and her son, Cameron, first visited the program seven years ago.
“I enjoy making connections with the families and working with the children,” Livingston says.
She points to the annual camping trip that North End Stay and Play participants go on as a highlight of being involved with the group.
“The kids are always excited to be able to go out, camp and roast marshmallows,” she says. “It’s just always a good experience.”
Little Stars Playhouse is designed to meet the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional needs of newborns to five-year-olds and their families.
The facility will include a range of activity centres, play areas, toys, books, resources and programming.
An on-site medical professional will help care for families, and the centre will offer music and visual art programs after regular business hours.
“I think what’s most important for me is supporting the families so that they know what they need and they know what their kids need,” Prymak says. “By listening carefully and listening closely to our families, we can provide the support they need so that their little stars can become the big stars they’re meant to be.”
Women Healing for Change is still raising funds for the facility.
Anyone interested in making a donation can visit littlestarsplayhouse.ca.
If you know a special volunteer, please contact email@example.com.
Little Stars Playhouse volunteers, Terry Brown with his daughter Kinsley, Gerrie Prymak, Edda Livingston and her son Cameron.
MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS