With excited children, face painting, and cake, the kcs Association celebrated its 35th birthday, along with a new accessible playground and image, Sept. 28 at Sylvan Lake Family and Community Centre.
The association, formerly known as Sylvan Lake Kinder-Care, started in 1978, said executive director Ann Faulk. At the time, it was one of the first early childhood care providers in the province.
In 2000, kcs began offering services to special needs youth, and in 2010 they extended the service to special needs adults, said Faulk. They also provide family support programs.
“As those kids have grown older we’ve grown older with them,” said Faulk.
With their growth came the need for a new name — “Kinder-Care” no longer reflected their diversity.
The association serves about 200 children from September to June with their early learning programs, said Faulk.
Doreen King’s son AJ, 5, is one of those children. With speech issues, he rarely talks. When he was 2, his speech therapist referred him to kcs, saying it had small class sizes and friendly, helpful staff. He has attended their programs ever since, and now attends kindergarten at kcs for five half-days a week.
“It was just overwhelming. Like great, this sounds awesome,” said King.
Since he began attending kcs, King has seen a marked improvement in her son, which she credits to kcs staff. He talks more, she said, and is less shy and more open to other people.
“The teachers and the aides were so nice and he just took to them right away,” said King, adding that her son was initially reluctant to leave home. “They make you feel so welcome.”
Though still a boy of few words, AJ has said he likes attending kcs, said King.
“If it wasn’t for kcs I don’t know where I would have taken him.”