AMHERST – The mandate has expanded since 1994.
When Maggie’s Place was created – two locations, Truro and Amherst – preschoolers were the focus.
“The initial mandate was to support the health and development of children age zero to six and their families,” said Carolyn D’Entremont, executive director.
As other funding streams became available, though, Maggie’s Place expanded its sphere of care to include older children and teens.
The Amherst branch is located at 11 Elmwood Drive, but servicing the broader county community is a prior. Money from the United Way is used to support the POP-UP program, which sends and early childhood educator to nine different locations in the county each week to run a two-hour program of play, circle time activities and stories, with a healthy snack.
D’Entremont said it improves social skills and school readiness.
“Things like language…literacy…numeracy skills.”
Wentworth and Advocate are the smallest of the nine communities. Each might attract about eight kids to the weekly session.
“I think it is (a big deal),” she said. “They’re happy to have something in their own community.”
Some of the centre’s programming might surprise the public.
“We teach skateboarding safety,” said the executive director.
People savers is a first aid class taught to kids. The youngest learners are just five years old. Pre and post-natal drop-ins and breastfeeding support, health, low-cost healthy cooking, a parent-run autism support group are all offered at Maggie’s.
A core value is accessibility.
“We’re able to provide an array of programs and services (for free),” said d’Entremont.
As well as free service, the centre tries to offer free childcare to coincide with programs for parents – removing another obstacle to using programs.
D”Entremont said their office’s work reaches about 750 adults and more than a thousand children in the area.
This is the third in a weekly series highlighting United Way member agencies.