Lakeview Parent Link Centre in Sylvan Lake officially opened Wednesday, but the fun for families started earlier this summer.
A total of $350,000 in provincial funding was announced in April for the centre and outdoor programs started in early July. The centre is located in the Sylvan Lake Community Centre.
Between 150 and 200 families have already registered for upcoming programming that begins Sept. 14.
“Parent Link has been a long time coming to Sylvan Lake,” said Giselle Campbell, Parent Link early learning supervisor.
“We got missed in the first draft 10 years ago when they opened the Parent Link centres. There is a big need in Sylvan. Our population is over 14,000 now so we have lots of young, young families,”
Lakeview Parent Link Centre also operates a smaller site in Eckville which officially opened on Wednesday. Lakeview will provide outreach services to Benalto as well.
Parent Link services are available for free and include parent education, early childhood development support, family support, information and referral, and developmental screening.
Darlene Beals, who visited the Sylvan Lake centre with her granddaughter Addison Beattie, 5, said she used to visit a Parent Link site in Edmonton with another granddaughter.
“It gives them a place to learn, to get along with other kids. I think it’s really good for them,” said Beals, while Addison flattened some Play-Doh.
Campbell said the centre can also help parents connect to community resources like information on low-cost housing, child care subsidies and more.
“We have a lot of new people to the community. They don’t know anybody so they come into the programs and they can connect with parents with children of similar ages. They set up play groups. They set up clothing swaps,” Campbell said.
Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre said Parent Link will be a place parents can go for advice if they don’t have relatives or friends who live nearby.
“Our staff and people within our community have had to work so hard to get the facilities ready, to get the programs in place,” McIntyre said in the Parent Link play room where children focused on toys and parents mingled.
“To see it all happening now, to see the children here learning, is really incredible.”
Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir said the two Lakeview Parent Link sites are among more than 50 Parent Links serving 185 communities across the province.
Last year nearly 100,000 Albertans visited Parent Links.
He said focusing on early childhood development is essential for Alberta’s children.
“A strong foundation in a child’s first year increases their chance of success in their future lives,” said Sabir before taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony for Lakeview Parent Link Centre.
“They are more emotionally resilient, develop stronger relationships, they are healthier, do better in school and are more successful in the work place,”“Strong families build strong communities and a strong province.”