Thursday, October 21, 2010

StrongStart BC Centre and Neighborhood House

Last Thursday, we went to the Neighborhood House in South Burnaby. It was recommended to me from a friend I ran into at the Edmond's Community fair. She volunteers at the neighborhood house as an interpreter. The neighborhood houses are available for adults and children to socialize. Parent days are held every Tuesday and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30AM. Tristan and I can walk there in around 40 minutes. Yeah, it was quite far but the trip was worth it! The drop-ins are free for everyone and the kids get to play and learn in an environment much like daycare. They do collect membership fees for $5 a year and this allows you to receive newsletters, participate in a variety of programs, and attend annual general meetings.

I was surprised to learn that there was a schedule. There was play time, clean-up time, snacks were provided, reading, circle time with songs and reading etc. It was so much like daycare, except that the parents were there as well. There were two staff present and about a dozen children. We were served bananas, oranges, and crackers for our snack. We also had cups of water. All the plates and cups were provided. The playroom was very large and there was a lot of space in the hallway for stroller parking. There were lots of toys and they were all of good condition. Overall, it was much more than what I had expected :) The only downside is that it's quite far to walk and it would be a bit of a pain to walk if it rained a lot.

Today, we went to the StrongStart BC Centre at Stride Avenue Community School. It was a last minute decision because we were running very late for the Neighborhood House. I was planning to check out the StrongStart centre anyway and since it was close by, I decided we should just go there. To my surprise, the centre was very much like the neighborhood house. I think the neighborhood house had better toys but circle time was a lot more fun at the StrongStart centre. The room at the centre was smaller, there were a lot more kids, and there was only one staff on duty. During snack time, we were served grapes, apples, and animal cookies on paper towels. I notice there was a brital filter container of water but you would have to serve yourself. Some parents brought their own plates and cutlery. I had my own water so that was fine. Again, I didn't know that snack was provided. There was only a small sink and cleaning area and I noticed the floor was wet from all the kids washing their hands. In comparison, the neighborhood house had a full kitchen room.

Lucky for us, today the public health dental staff was at the community school and we were invited to get fluoride varnish for Tristan's teeth and have him examined by a hygienist. Apparently, these healthcare professionals travel from school to school so they were only there that day. We haven't brought Tristan into the dentist yet and I was definitely interested in having his teeth inspected. They were able to squeeze us into their appointment schedule so I filled out their consent form. The hygienist applauded us on brushing twice a day but when I mentioned we use Orajel because it can be swallowed, I got lectured on not using fluoride. She said that fluoride should be used right away when teething first starts. Only a pea-size toothpaste is needed on the toothbrush and that would be harmless to swallow. She also mentioned that Tristan should only be drinking from a cup now and that bottle sucking is not good for his teeth. Then she looked at his teeth and said that they looked good. She applied the flouride varnish on him and he was so good about it all. He didn't even move. I'm not sure why but he is surprisingly cooperative at these sorts of things. Every vaccination visit we've had, he doesn't move much either. We then walked away with a toothbrush and a sticker :)

I admit that the Neighborhood House has a better facility overall and even the families there were friendlier than the StrongStart centre we visited today. However, because of the convenience in location and availability of the StrongStart centre by us, we will likely go there more often. They are open Monday to Friday 9-12PM. Since they are located inside a school, they operate during school days. Tomorrow is Pro-D day for elementary students so the centre is also closed.


harriet glynn said...

Oh! good to know. I still have not gone to Strong Start but would like to. Amazing that little maniacs can be so cooperative with a stranger. I hope Theo is good when we visit the dentist in January for his first appointment.

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