Thursday, June 16, 2016

Early Learning Center Bounces Back after Disaster

This past winter, at a well-known child care center in Vancouver, a disaster happened. A larger portion of KIDSPACE child enrichment center’s roof caught fire and quickly spread to a large part of KIDSPACE’s gymnasium and classroom area. Check out the original report from The Columbian here: Fire empties day care center near Vancouver Mall

“The smoke just started billowing and getting bigger,” said KIDSPACE Director, Kathy Stanley. “The kids evacuated with no shoes, because that is what they learned—take nothing with.” 

KIDSPACE staff and children followed their emergency preparedness plan, and were in compliance with the State’s licensed child care emergency preparedness requirements.
Kathy Stanley, KIDSPACE Director thanks community and friends for support in unfinished gymnasium. Stanley is standing in front of a scrap-book board/collage of important lessons learned and milestones achieved following the fire.
Due in part to the responsiveness of the Vancouver fire department, the willingness of nearby businesses to shelter children and fast-acting KIDSPACE staff, not one person was hurt.

“When I got the call that this fire had happened, I wasn’t expecting that the biggest problem would be that a bunch of 3- and 4-year-olds were excited about seeing fire engines,” said DEL Director, Ross Hunter. Hunter and DEL administration were notified of the fire, and the successful evacuation the same day it took place.

DEL Director, Ross Hunter and KIDSPACE Director, Kathy Stanley
To celebrate KIDSPACE’s resilience and “grace under fire,” the Department of Early Learning spent time at the center this past week. Hunter and area licensing staff toured the facility, and learned from the children about fire safety, demolition, architecture and the science behind fire.

Following the emergency, KIDSPACE staff brainstormed how to create an entire unit and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities to accompany their lessons. A friend to the Center also created a large-scale scrap-book wall to showcase the activities and the timeline of the center’s recovery following the emergency. 

“The damage done to this place, it looks like a disaster,” said Hunter. Currently, KIDSPACE’s gym is under construction to repair the damage done by the fire. “The real disaster would be if any one of those children were hurt. But they weren’t. And that’s because this center had their stuff together. Thank you for running a high-quality early learning program and for letting us learn about what you do here.”

DEL Director, Ross Hunter learns about circuitry from KIDSPACE kids.
KIDSPACE is still undergoing renovation, but was able to open at full-capacity about a month following the fire.

Want to know more about some of the cool things happening at KIDSPACE? Follow them on Facebook here: KIDSPACE Child Enrichment Center.

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