Katie Fornwald can’t believe how quickly the new Lampman Family Centre has come together.
The centre is operated by the Healthy Rural Family Project, which was formed back in February. After just seven months, the agency was able to raise enough funds to be able to lease a building in Lampman, and renovate it so that the family centre would be ready. It will open for the first time on Sept. 4, and a grand opening celebration will take place three days later.
“We have had an astounding amount of community response and support and financial assistance,” said Fornwald, who is the chairperson of the centre’s board. “The one night we said we needed some people to come and help us move some items, and 30 people showed up.”
For a small community like Lampman, with 700 people, to go along with the estimated 1,800 people in the surrounding rural municipalities, the turnout of volunteers was very impressive, she said.
“It really makes a big difference in our efforts as a board,” said Fornwald.
The activities the day of the grand opening begin with a jail and bail benefit starting at noon. People can nominate somebody they know to be arrested for a petty infraction, and the inmates won’t be released until they raise enough funds to meet their bail.
Then the grand opening festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with a ribbon cutting. Bouncy castles and a hot dog sale are also scheduled.
“It’s just a time to come and take a grand tour of the new centre,” said Fornwald.
There is still some work remaining at the family centre, as equipment and furniture need to be moved.
The centre is located on Third Avenue, in the building that used to be occupied by the Lampman Full Gospel Assembly. It is operated by a volunteer board with 10 members, and it has a full-time program co-ordinator, Lorna Roy, along with a pre-school teacher and a program assistant.
Many other volunteers are contributing to the project.
Fornwald said they have all of their board positions filled, but they are still looking for volunteers, and will always be on the lookout for those willing to help out.
The family centre will offer a variety of programs, including a before and after school program for anyone with school-aged children; a preschool program for children ages three and four; a mom’s drop-in play group; a baby play group; youth drop-in and other activities.
“Another program that we’re offering is the Aboriginal Cultural Integration Program, ACIP is what it’s short for, and we’ll be able to introduce some cultural activities and events around that,” said Fornwald.
A program guide will be released on Tuesday when the family centre opens.
The centre is always taking suggestions from people for different programs they would like to see offered. The current programs are being offered on a “trial and error” to see what works and what doesn’t, she said.
Fornwald expects the centre will be open daily from Monday to Friday, and on weekends, depending on when the programs are offered.
The before school program, for example, would be every school day from Monday to Friday. The after school program, meanwhile, would be in conjunction with the Lampman Public Library.
“On Mondays and Tuesdays, we will be running the after school program at the family centre. Wednesdays and Thursdays will be at the library, and Fridays is our fun day, in which some days we’ll be able to run the program from the school gym,” said Fornwald.
Early childhood education is a big part of children’s success in education, she said. Developing a centre specifically dedicated to early childhood education in small children gives kids the chance to have greater success in school through Grade 12 and into post-secondary education.
“When you have centres like the family centre, it enables people to step out of their house without feeling like they’re intruding on anyone, because it’s an open community centre,” said Fornwald.
“When you have places like the Lampman Family Centre that is open and available to any family of socio-economic background, or any background at all, really, it gives them the opportunity to socialize with other people that have the same interests as them, which is usually raising their family.”
The Healthy Rural Family Project, meanwhile, gets out into the community and explores all the different parts of people’s lives as rural families, and how to balance each part of daily life equally.
“That means being physically active, being … social … in all the different parts of your life and how you organize yourself,” said Fornwald.
The family centre has not only had an excellent response in Lampman, but from other neighbouring towns and villages. They consulted with other family centres in the southeast before they opened.
“Our mandate is to help healthy rural families, and just because you live in a town doesn’t mean that you’re not a rural family,” said Fornwald. “Lampman is a rural community, and our mandate to fit whatever need is needed.”