“This is going to be great! We’re going to the movies and getting pizza,” said a second grade child as he left with 50 other children in kindergarten through eighth grade who participate in the Fun ‘N’ Friends/Senior Leaders program at Washington Educational Services Building (WESB) to go to the new Lakes 12 Movie Theatre to watch “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and Rafferty’s Pizza for lunch. I thought about how great it is that we can support our children, families, and local businesses all in one day and with one event. Then I thought about our Nisswa Fun ‘N’ Friends School-Age Care Program and how the local businesses ( Mickey’s, Ganley’s, A & W Restaurant, and Rafferty’s ) have come to our rescue by providing meals for our children on a daily basis all summer while the school cafeteria is being refurbished.
For the past 25 years, Brainerd Public Schools has made it a priority to provide a safe, age-appropriate, quality school-age care/enrichment program for our community’s children. Services have been expanded to offer the KinderClub Early-Age Care and Pre-Kindergarten program for 4 and 5 year olds in WESB. A quality, consistent, year-round child care program allows parents and guardians to work without the added stress of wondering how their child is doing, where to take him or her today, and if he or she is having fun and learning.
One of our goals is to introduce our young citizens to their community by touring local businesses, participating in local events, inviting guest speakers to share hobbies, careers, and opportunities within our community, as well as volunteering. We encourage and support their role as young, valued members of our community as they grow into future leaders, business owners, and active citizens. I would like to extend a great big thank you to Brainerd Public Schools Transportation, Dial-A-Ride, and Reichert Transportation for helping to make this possible.
Our mission is to serve the program’s children and their parents and guardians yet we have found we serve another client...the local businesses and employers. Following are a few statistics collected from our family registration information from this past year to show our connection and service to the greater community:
• KinderClub Early-Age Care and Pre-K program served 40 children and 35 local business employers.
• Fun ‘N’ Friends Nisswa program served 78 children and 52 local business employers.
• Fun ‘N’ Friends/Senior Leaders WESB program served 287 children/youth and 247 local employers.
• Twenty-one of our parents/guardians listed themselves as self-employed, 85 did not list their employer, and four indicated they were unemployed.
The number served reflects all registered children and youth but not all participate on a daily basis. We have flexible scheduling within a two week/monthly period and on-call scheduling as needed for our Fun ‘N’ Friends/Senior Leader members and a two week flexible schedule/three day minimum for our KinderClub members. This is based on our ever-changing family/community needs and seasonal employment.
Please keep in mind we are not the only child/youth care programs serving our children and families. Home care providers, private providers, and centers are doing their part too. We are pleased to say our child/youth care programs can benefit the larger community while keeping each and every child/youth member as our priority. Supporting our community — and serving our children, parents and guardians, and businesses for 25 years.
Lisa Stawarski is the coordinator for the Community Education Fun ‘N’ Friends Program, District 181.